THE WEAPONIZATION OF POVERTY
Since the return to democracy in 1999, politicians in Nigeria have continued to cajole the electorates into giving them mandates using different exploitative cum inhuman strategies. This callous exploitation has contributed negatively to the development of democracy in Nigeria.
Politicians display lackadaisical attitude after assuming offices only to show up during election period with huge financial war chests to take advantage of the poverty of the electorates, the politicians themselves have deliberately facilitated for such a time as the electioneering period.
The recently concluded election in Ekiti State in Nigeria, shows a very disturbing and dangerous development where buying of votes, financial inducement right at the polling units on election day has been extolled by no order but the federal government itself that is responsible for impoverishing the people where a dollar that sold for 160 naira when they took over, now sells for 360 naira, a bag of rice that sold for between 7,000 naira in 2015, now sells for between 15,000 to 17,000 naira, other food commodities are also not left behind.
The federal government has made it the norm now that politicians are seen giving out monies in exchange for votes. This has been a clear case of who is offering how much as the voters now do not even care who becomes their leaders. Their primary focus now is to assuage that temporary hunger.
Unsuspecting electorates who live in abject poverty do not understand any thing that will not bring immediate relieve to their hunger infested bellies. Any true politician, regardless of how noble his intents are, becomes a noise maker before these electorates the moment it becomes clear to them that he may not meet their immediate needs of placating their hunger.
Because this hunger informed the decision of a larger chunk of the electorates, it has become a tradition among politicians to abandon the electorates to wallow in wants until election approaches so that the politicians can come back with enough money to sway minds directed by their stomachs into making favourable decision for these politicians. The trader money and other financial empowerments embarked upon by the incumbent federal government is a typical example of how poverty of the Nigerian masses will be used to affect the outcome of the 2019 general elections. Funds that should have been channeled towards people oriented projects that will benefit the generality of the masses are now being used to sway unsuspecting voters to vote for the incumbent government. Poverty of the people is now a political weapon for politicians. And because poverty is a weapon, most politicians would not want to be disarmed of this weapon by ensuring the poverty among the populace is perpetrated and perpetuated. It is responsible to why the country, states and constituencies cannot enjoy sustainable developments, because development will mean disarming the politicians of the weapon of poverty.
For power to return to the people, the people must be empowered. The economy must be better. Security must be tight. And leaders will be voted based on sustainable development on rational thinking and not momentary satisfaction of hunger on stomach think.
Take the weapons from the politicians by giving power back to the people. Nigeria can be great again.
Steven Kefason is a political ethusiasist and he writes from Kenyi Kaduna state.