“Make over offices/Then take over all of it” – Jay Z (Corporate Takeover)
I am usually not skeptic about ambitious projects, especially when undertaken by young, passionate individuals. As a young person myself, I know that ignorance informed by lack of experience is our greatest weapon in changing the world. Everything is possible because you have no idea how difficult it is. So I found myself very much taken aback by my skepticism of the PDP Youth Circuit’s widely publicised attempt to create a “new breed without greed”. I really wish it was a cause I could get behind. Sadly, I have no doubt in my mind; the PDP Youth Circuit is almost certainly doomed to failure.
The issue with this approach to fixing the PDP isn’t even that the fact that Africa’s largest political party is in some sense objectively irredeemable. It is the fact that even if they were serious, a bunch of youth glib talking on social media about “changing the face of politics in Nigeria” is probably the wrong way to go about it. As my fellow columnist Ebuka once wisely implied, “smart talk and good looks are still no match for age”. By 2015, this seemingly promising youth circuit will be a youth circus. The top performers *may* be co-opted into some junior level ministerial position while the rest would have to be satisfied with whatever “transport money” the anointed candidate at the next PDP primaries deems them fit for; neither of which is anything like the high-minded “change” they envision. So one must wonder, why do brilliant young Nigerians imagine the only effective way to pursue political and social change is to waste their most productive years gaining dubious experience in Nigeria’s puppeteer politics?
The question then is, given my skepticism, what else could work as a viable solution for fixing Nigerian politics?
Over time, I have come to understand that the language of change in politics is money.
With very few exceptions, it is cold hard cash, not hope, ideologies, or even great ideas that we have to thank for victory at the polls. Even in the most liberal democracies we aspire to, this universal truth of is simply hidden under a web of Super PACs and hefty campaign donations. Indeed, the only thing that will cleanse Nigeria’s messy political arena for the better is an influx of private money strategically and surreptitiously employed to counter corrupt public money to support the campaigns of better qualified candidates.
Unfortunately, our young, more enlightened and conscientious elites tend to be more politically reactive. They would rather pay obeisance to the ruling party, whatever it is, despite their own private reservations. Perhaps, when pushed to the wall, they may march in anger but that is where it ends. What they fail to recognize is that instead of simply bending over to the ignorant and ridiculous dictates of a ruling party led by stark illiterates, with their combined wealth, they could quite easily pioneer their own well-funded political revolution by boldly investing in young, sophisticated and competent Nigerians like themselves who will do what is best for the country, and by extension, their interests.
Nigeria’s new elites need to realize than by investing in politics, they will not only get a more influential seat at the policy making table, but they can also reduce the immense costs of bad government policy to their business interests. As American companies can attest, with time investing in politics can be particularly great for the bottom line. After all, at one point, American companies were making $220 on every dollar spent on lobbying.
Now, some of you may argue that the reality of moneyed politics may make us less of a true democracy. It will establish a class society and drown the voice of the poor. No doubt, these concerns are mostly valid. Still, I don’t think the influence of private money in politics is that bad, particularly given the more important threat of incumbents unfettered access to the public treasury.
Private money in politics tends to act as an effective counterbalance to governance by “brainless populism” which usually tends towards bigger government and its worse outcomes and more importantly, it acts as an alternative to corrupt proceeds for conscientious politicians. I would like to think if our public officials could rely on well intentioned private purses, some of them might come under less pressure to plunder the nations treasury to defend their house of representative seats.
At the end of the day, instead of prancing around on social media, if Nigeria’s younger and more politically conscious elite really want to change the face of politics in Nigeria, they will do well to speak louder in the only way Nigerian politics knows to listen; money.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.