Actions and activities of dramatis personae of most political parties in this country, particularly the two leading parties— the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party, have never impressed me. They act as if nothing matters and nobody exists beside them. That is why about half of the universities in the country are on forced closure with the students apprehensively looking up to them to “say something and do something” about their plight but they just concentrated on the next election processes. Their children’s education is going smoothly in private universities or universities abroad. Even, in discussing their party issues, they care less about the feeling or mood of the nation. Or how can we explain that in a country dubbed as the poverty capital of the world, a party would want to sell some pieces of papers put together as party form at N20 million or, more baffling, at N40 million!

It was reported in The PUNCH that at its 95th National Executive Council meeting, the PDP pegs its presidential nomination form at N40 million and that of governorship candidates at N21 million with lower amounts for other categories of candidates at the lower levels. Premium Times also reported the same price for the APC presidential forms. The APC was said to offer the forms free of charge for female candidates but you can be sure the party would not apply this for a female presidential or governorship candidate. Despite these huge prices, there has been competition among the candidates to collect the forms. Many of the candidates claimed that the funds were donated by friends and associates, possibly to avoid prying eyes. Paying so much for forms is clearly laying the foundation for corruption and godfatherism. The eventual winner for any of the positions will have to recoup his or her fund as the first step towards settling down and those who lost out as well as those who contributed to purchase of the forms will have to be compensated with contracts as the way to reclaiming their deposits.

Some of the ‘wealthy’ politicians even bought a number of forms as ‘gifts’ for potential candidates that do not have money. That is a way of building godsons and promoting hero worship. Instead of collectively bringing down the prices to an affordable level, reflecting the economic condition of the country, the parties’ leadership have shown the direction their parties will lead the country in the next republic. One is not even surprised that some state governors, who have not been able to pay their workers as of when due or still paying minimum wage of N18,000, are filing papers of return or attempting to move to higher positions. That is the kind of condescension with which they behold the citizenry. They believe that our votes do not count or matter.

The economic matters arising from the parties’ decisions and actions as well as individual participants have to do with revenues. Does the state or government have the record of donors or sponsors apart from the candidates? How much have the candidates and their sponsors paid as tax in the last three to five years from their businesses? Are the parties paying taxes from their incomes, since they are more of business enterprises than political parties? The agencies dealing with corruption issues must show interest in the legitimacy of the businesses of the candidates and their sponsors. If we are to change the narrative of the Nigerian state from corrupt to an accountable and transparent entity, which is a necessity for development post the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), we must show interest in sources of finance of those who will lead us henceforth.

From social concern, how much have been committed by the candidates and the sponsors to scholarship for educating indigent students in Nigerian schools or schools in their locality? How much have they committed to upgrading of facilities in their alma mater or even primary health centres or hospitals in their environment? When last did they visit or send gifts to old people’s homes or motherless babies homes in their areas? Anyone that can buy pieces of papers tagged nomination form for N5 million or contribute N2 million to purchase of such forms should be able to contribute to making life comfortable for the poor citizens in his or her environment. After all, all religions preach being a brother’s keeper.

The IPOB Business-Free Monday: All tribes in Nigeria have names for each day of the week as well as names for each month. The Yoruba call Monday, Ojo Aje, literally meaning business day and to many of them, if your business attracts many customers on Monday, the week is likely going to be good businesswise. Personally, I do feel happier when I receive bank alerts on Mondays than any other day. Like most superstitious human beings, I hold special prayers for my debtors, even when I am not sure I have one, to remember me on Mondays with a feeling that it would be a good omen for the week. I am sure it is the same with many traders or businessmen and women in Nigeria including those in the eastern part of the country. Imagine being forcefully locked away from your wares or business after such prayer?

On a more practical note, closing business on any day of the week, and consistently so, implies business insecurity. It would scare away potential investors and existing ones could start planning to move to a more conducive business environment. The Indigenous People of Biafra need to rethink their strategy. The Igbo are Nigeria’s business community. Very enterprising in business and industrial subsectors. I always hold the view that if Nigeria is serious about industrialisation, the starting region should be the South-East, promoting all those Onitsha-Aba small and medium scale industries to large scale through appropriate policy and financial interventions. It is that same area that is now being negatively affected by political manipulations.

Governor Chukwuma Soludo understands the economic implications of the IPOB actions in terms of employment generation, revenue mobilisation and general economic empowerment and development. That is why he has been trying to force his way through to dislodge the logjam. But it is a political issue that can be resolved largely politically. It cuts across states and collective efforts of the states involved would be required to solve the problem. The IPOB leadership should be called for dialogue to present the economic implications to them. Other parts of the country are the beneficiaries of their losses, although they can also suffer from unplanned migration and urban decay in the short term.

In the long term however, when the migrants have settled down and start working, the revenues from taxes start coming in to improve their internally generated revenue. In an efficient tax system, both Lagos and Ogun states would have been benefiting greatly from the IPOB action because that is where you see most migrants. The long-term loss for South-East will be grave as both local and foreign investors could forever regard the area as a dangerous zone for investment.

For how long the Igbo want to continue to suffer this seemingly impervious action depends on how quick the IPOB members realise and accept the damaging effects of their actions to the precarious economic well being of the Igbos vis a vis the rest of the country who are not waiting for them. More appropriately, however, is the fact that political leadership in Igbo domain needs to bring the IPOB leadership to understand that they are punishing the Igbo with dwindling old and new investments, unemployment, loss of revenue for individuals and the states, and generally promoting poverty and underdevelopment.

Stop press: Budget 2022 deficit: The news that the president has written to the National Assembly for adjustment in the 2022 budget is disturbing. The implementation of the budget is just about to take off and adjustment is being requested. How many adjustments are we expecting by the end of the budget period? The calculation for the deficit and the gap to be filled with borrowing needs to be reworked by accountants in the Assembly. The original budget was based on $62 per barrel but crude oil has been selling for over $100 per barrel for some time. That gap must be taken account of in calculating the deficits, despite short fall in output and there is the need to re-arrange expenditure to avoid further borrowings, either local or foreign.

 

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Source: On cost of party forms and IPOB free Monday

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