The Politics of Backwardness and Sustained Poverty, and the 2023 Election

Proffesor Chinedum Nwajiuba

Assume a state with about 30 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Assume each LGA has 10 council wards. That will mean 300 wards in the state.

If each ward has 10 polling units that will mean 3,000 polling units in the state.

If a political party in the 2023 election spent minimum $500USD per polling unit in buying votes, that will mean $1,500,000USD (One Million Five Hundred Dollars).

If as at March 18, 2023, the street exchange rate per Dollar was N740, the $1,500,000 will mean N1,110,000,000. That is One Billon, One Hundred and Ten Million Naira, spent by the political party in vote-buying, in one election day, say March 18, 2023. This may also have been for states having just one election, that is the House of Assembly, and not the Governorship.

This type of money as widely known comes from the coffers of the state. There is a huge opportunity cost to this because there are many useful things, especially those that can have multiplier effects, which such a state could have invested this money.

An enlightened rulership and political class that invests such funds patriotically and with love of the people they rule, will win the minds and support of the people, and will not need to use violence to win elections. The further expenditure on hiring thugs to destroy and cart away ballot boxes, the costs of bringing in soldiers and policemen, is not part of the bill here. That is additional. Nevertheless, our rulers chose to use force and intimidation, as well as buying the people so they remain in office. This can be different* .

The political party and her government decided to spend such amount, N1.11 billion on vote buying, and atomise such significant accumulated financial resources, and this becomes disaggregated into individual hands. This is the opposite of the benefit of financial accumulation, via such tools as taxation, by which small amounts are aggregated from individual units of the economy. Such aggregated financial resources by the state, which are usually significant amounts, should be invested in activities that could create positive development impact.

In serious societies such aggregation via taxation and similar, are preferably invested in a manner that could generate sustained economic growth and development, and by this address unemployment, poverty, and insecurity, among others, while creating a basis for private sector investment, which is imperative for sustainable upliftment of the wellbeing of the people. The disaggregation of already available significant funds under the control of the state, achieves the opposite.

This is the case, especially in poverty-stricken economies, as the small funds that accrues to the individual voters and party operatives end up in consumption, often on commodities that may not help the local economy. The people who so benefit from such disaggregation via their votes being bought, dissipate this in a manner that does not lift them higher than their low-level equilibrium life.

This is one factor that those who often wonder why the sections of the country that have dominated political rulership also seem to be the region with more mass poverty may not have recognized. Taking money from the public till and sharing to people will not lift them out of poverty, rather it often has the opposite effect. For one, dependency results. When on the other hand people are stimulated to be productively engaged, and become creators of wealth, especially by mass entrepreneurship, the indices of human development are better.

The rulers of the states are not equipped to understand this. Their inability to operate at the required level of understanding is inherent, arising from the underdevelopment of their minds, lack of exposure, inadequate quality education, outright irresponsibility and lack of patriotism, lack of love for those they rule, among other inhibitions. Clearly today in Nigeria, there are no philosopher kings, and no one operating at the mental, moral, and spiritual level of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Okpara, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, and Sam Mbakwe. There is little doubt that we suffer little men with underdeveloped minds prancing about the political space. It is evident that the political space in Nigeria is dominated by a buccaneer band, and gangs of pillaging manipulators.

As many of them celebrate their triumphs obtained not just by sharing the USD in polling units, but in many cases, outright stealing of tools of the election including the BVAS, ballot papers, warehousing of electoral officers and staff, abduction of collation officers and results sheets, they assume that people are ignorant. They indeed need to be pitied, for what they have become in the eyes and to the knowledge of citizens.

Assume however, the political party decided to spend half of the N1.11 billion on the buying of votes and put half into genuinely helping the youth, that will mean spending N555,000,000 (Five hundred and fifty-five million naira) on elections and another N555,000,000 on a youth programme entrepreneurship and business start-up programme.

If you have a certain university with a Faculty of Agriculture which has about 200 final years students – Agriculture with all her options, Food Sciences, and Nutrition and Dietetics, and you share this N555,000,000 equally to them, that will mean N1,775,000 (One Million Seven Hundred and Seventy-Five Million naira) per student.

Assuming each interested and willing student invests this on entrepreneurship and business start-ups, will society not be better? Who cares? In any case, our society is failing in raising the next generation of farmers, as we are confronted by an ageing farming population. Suppose therefore Government offers scholarship to students of agriculture in our universities, would that not be preferable?

The absence of a ruling class that can imagine this type of programmes and implement them, is a key factor in the continued backwardness, unemployment, and poverty in our society. This fuels insecurity. This is a key contributor to making life and living such a challenging matter in contemporary Nigeria.

Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba
Former Vice-Chancellor (February 2016 – 10 February 2021)
Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike,
P.M.B. 1010, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria.



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