A 37-year-old Pastor and youth activist, Ayodele Oluwamuyiwa Favour, on Thursday declared to run for the office of president on the platform of Young Progressive Party in 2019.
The aspirant postulated a political concept of “less government, more governance” as the panacea to the myriad of challenges currently confronting Nigeria.
Below is Favour’s full speech, titled: “The rise and rise of politics of division far above better governance, inclusive growth, and participatory democracy,” at the declaration ceremony:
Power is never given, power is taken. There’s no gainsaying that since independence, the people of Nigeria have never been in control of power. You may be tempted to blame that on protracted military rule. Well, I don’t think so; because even in the intermittent democratic spells that we have had through the years, the people of Nigeria have never been able to exert full control of political powers. And why is that so?
At the dawn of independence, the founding fathers of the country missed a golden opportunity of laying a solid foundation for the greatness of this country due to their inability to close ranks and work together as one. Rather, regional politics was the order of the day- leading to deep political division along ethnic groups.
The direct result of that foundational error was the violence that erupted in the Western region and subsequently the civil war. These early events, including the military rule that followed, have kept the Nigerian electorate deeply divided and impoverished that they are unable to express their political expectations with one voice.
For example, even an insider in the Buhari government, Mrs Maryam uwais, was quoted by Vanguard as having said over 67% of Nigerians live below poverty line. I won’t even bother you with other socio-economic indices that show that there is endemic poverty in Nigeria. With a large chunk of the electorate it’s difficult to prevent financial inducement of voters during elections.
In the 2015 election President Muhammadu Buhari won by getting over 53% of the total votes. An overwhelming large chunk of the votes cast for Buhari came from northern electorates while for Goodluck Jonathan, it was landslide victory in the South South where he comes from. With this trend in the 2015 election, it’s easy to see that people voted heavily along ethno-religious lines.
From Kano to Enugu to Ibadan, people still vote on the basis of financial gratification or the ethnic cum religious background of political office seekers. Therefore, money politics and politics of tribalism are the two primary reasons why Nigerian electorates have remained weak. Unfortunately, as long as the electorates remained divided, it will be almost impossible to have participatory democracy, good governance and inclusive growth. This is because politics is about who controls what. Who controls the allocation of resources or who controls political power.
It is a common knowledge today that in Nigeria, political office holders sometimes carry on in wanton disregard of the people they represent and against constitutional limitations of their powers. Even when government tries to legislate and execute people oriented projects, the electorate is not widely consulted. Hence, there’s urgent need to walk-tall for the people to assume full control of political powers as it’s obtainable in Western Democracies. But how can we ensure that power truly resides with the people? To answer this question, I will go right back to my opening statement that POWER IS NOT GIVEN BUT TAKEN.
If the electorates keep waiting for the political class to hand back political power to them on a platter of gold, they may have to wait forever. That is never going to happen. Rather;
1. The people must devise a means of organizing to demand the institutionalization of democratic principles that ensure that the people’s will is deeply entrenched in politics and governance.
2. And the media and civil society groups must be at the forefront of this agitation.
First and foremost, media and civil society groups must galvanize the populace to ask for sustainable policies that will reduce poverty and inequality in the country. Until the average man on the street is empowered to live above abject poverty, the electorates will remain easy target for manipulative politicians.
Also as we return to our various destinations, it’s important that we start community based organizations, faith based organizations, non-governmental organizations etc. that will mobilize and enlighten the people on how to rise above poverty and tribalism-because until we deal with this two socio-economic variables, the will of politicians will always prevail.
Fortunately, the quest for poverty eradication and the search for national unity are two major reasons why I jumped in the ring. If voted as president, I will institutionalize bottom-up policy formulation and execution process that ensures that the people are allowed and guided to initiate developmental policies that eradicate poverty at the grassroots.
I will encourage participatory and transparent allocation of government revenues in a way that empowers the electorate to monitor government expenditure to the last kobo. With this arrangement, even leaders in market women associations will be given the voice to question and monitor government recurrent as well as capital expenditure.
Fortunately for us, there’s the freedom of information bill, we will encourage the electorates to openly track what is being spent- for me that is the best way to reduce graft and misappropriation of fund.
We will also initiate constitutional changes that will ensure that power is equitably shared among the people of Nigeria. We will give every ethnic group in Nigeria a sense of belonging. Never again will any ethnic group in Nigeria feel that its survival depends on control of political power.
We will work hand in hand with the civil society groups, religious institutions and the media to sensitize the people on the need to live as one- far above tribal and regional sentiment. I sincerely believe that if we start the journey of addressing these two issues today, we will soon arrive at the Nigeria of our future.
I will like to restate that there can not be talks of better governance, participatory governance and inclusive growth if the electorates don’t rise up and demand for them with one voice! And as long as poverty and tribalism remains entrenched in this country, the electorates cannot speak with one voice.