October 20 was a cold Friday night in the city of Lagos. Radisson Blu played host to the crème de la crème in the nation’s political sphere. The event titled “The Nigeria we deserve: Strengthening governance through political participation” was hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of Nigeria (HKSAAN).
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola and Ayisha Osori, Secretary, HKSAAN & author Love Does Not Win Elections engaged with participants as they discussed from her book and from personal experience.
The discussions ranged from the systems of the political parties to the huge involvement of money in politics, and also the participation of women in politics.
While speaking on the issue of delegates in the party structure, one of the discussants argued that change cannot be made from outside and that political parties choose candidates based on the issues being discussed during the election period.
“You can’t make change from outside and the party can decide on whether it’s to be a direct or indirect primary to choose party candidates. Both types can be used depending on the party decision but, indirect is cheaper compared to direct, as what is needed for indirect is the nomination of representatives from the wards and units which can’t be for non-party members except those that participated in the ward delegate elections.”
On political ambitions, a participant said individuals intending for political office must be available for his people, visible in his environment and participate in activities going on in his environment as a form of investment and must have the courage to keep on with their ambitions even if they failed at the first time.
It was also noted that majority of politicians are not ready to make investments in politics as it relates to political participation, which could come in form of monitoring the implementation of projects executed in their environment as a practical example of monitoring the political process as it operates within and outside political parties. Political positions won’t be relinquished on self-wish but by struggles with the powers that be as ideologies and manifestos don’t win elections.
Violence has always been an issue in Nigeria, during elections and using the opportunity, a participant said electoral violence hampers peace and, its a general belief that if you are fighting to destroy something, it’s because you can’t win it. Also, armed elections result to an armed state which won’t be habitable for people as the aspirations to lead must come with a clean mind.
In a manner that might somewhat discourage politically ambitious individuals, it was noted at the event, like in every other discussion of such atmosphere, that separating money from politics cannot work in our clime as that’s the only language some voters understand, besides politics requires a lot of financial investment as a result, money cannot be separated from politics as electoral nomination forms are expensive same as press conferences which are necessary for elections.
The conclusion was that the political environment should be restructured to accommodate all interested political players. And politicians should engage in planning with purpose, which should be done for all political ambitions.