The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) knows the power of elections and have thus chosen a rather auspicious time to strike.
Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan expressed worry, at some point during his presidency, over the frequency of elections in the country and the attendant holes such elections bore in the nation’s resources. The brick bat, mudslinging, violence and , sometimes, bloodshed that come with them made him say a four-year cycle was too frequent when juxtaposed with the trouble that come with the polls. He suggested a single five or seven year tenure for political offices, which implies that the election cycle would also change. The suggestion was not even a stillbirth as it never left the former President’s table. It was shot down for many reasons, chief of which was the perceived selfish reasons from which it rooted. The former President was suspected to have attempted shifting the goal post at the middle of the game because he would push his tenure up should the suggestion fly. It was shot down even before it tried to flip its wings to fly. But a dispassionate look at that position may be worthwhile, not just on account of the trouble and resources that go into the process, but to curtail the apparent do-or-die approach and the increasing tendency for some people to make a carrier of politics and refuse to have a second address. There is desperation in the moves of some people to clinch political offices even when they say they are driven by the passion to serve. There are talks about politics also being a career like any other. However, politics is a different breed of career because , at the bottom line of politics is the struggle for national resources. Politicians decide how national resources are spent and what they are spent on, which is why it should not be a carrier for which some people should perpetuate themselves. The call of duty took me to a certain local government area in a typical Niger Delta state where a certain senator is said to have been at the green chamber for a long time[about twelve years or so], and is gearing to return there, having secured the ticket of the current ruling party, where he has defected to in his pursuit of the seat. My informant told me he is sure to win because the machinery that kept him there has moved with him. He said a hold of that machinery was as good as a stranglehold on the seat. Such long stay or ranking membership, as they call it here, come with attendant experience. Such members are replete in long standing democracies as the United States and other places. There are also the senator Ekweremadus, David Marks and their ilk in the Nigerian senate, who have taken full advantage of the open ended tenure at the chamber. The fact is that in Nigeria, the government holds the larger chunk of the resources, which is why lots of people struggle to get there. Take the example of pay structure. The Nigerian legislature rank in the league of highest earning in the world, a contrast to the nation’s civil service which occupies the unenviable seat of one of the least paying in the world. That irony offers one of the many explanations for the struggle for political office. It must be admitted that some people chase power not for money, but for prestige and influence. They appear to me in the minority in our clime.
Admittedly elections come with struggle, court matters and attendant violence but there are also dividends of elections. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) knows the power of elections and have thus chosen a rather auspicious time to strike. They have insisted on an increase in the minimum wage of workers. Imminent elections would not let government stave off the demand, not one desperate to dig up achievements to put it in good stead for the coming polls. There seem to be a consensus that the government has little or nothing to show for holding the lever of power since 2015, one that seem to have lost some ardent followers, including that likes of Professor Tam David West and his ilk, who stuck out their necks and reputation for this regime, only to lick fingers in apparent regret and disappointment.
The power of elections has seen the government fighting back and reeling out all manner of achievements it has made while in the saddle. But for the impending elections, the regime may not have raked up anything to show for its time in power. It has engaged labour in a move to review the minimum wage. Discussions have gone back and forth and there seem to be light at the end of the tunnel, although states are said to have insisted that they cannot go beyond 20,000 naira against labour’s 32, 000 or so and federal government’s 25,000 or so offer. But for the elections, there may have been no discussion and, of course, no truce. The power of impending elections has hastened the discussion on review of minimum wage, a move that would put smiles on the face of labour and give government the much needed thing to flaunt as an achievement in the wake of elections. There has been the ubiquitous Paris club refunds, which has enabled states pay off months of salary arrears. This would stave off the debilitating situation of seeking elections in the face of unpaid salaries. That is the power of elections. Governments strive to be in the good books of the people at all levels, which is the good side of the current cycle of elections. Elections years see governments struggling to add to their scorecards and thus wooing the people. There has often been the tendency to relapse in into inactivity after the polls. As the cycle of elections continue, so does the circle of activity and inactivity follow. There is, however, no disputing that elections have the power to spur government into action to endear it to the people, and to dig up all manner of dividends to shore up its scorecard and, as it were, railroad the people into voting in the affirmative.