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Delegates System Monetization In Politics That Throw Elections To Bigger Spenders Who May Serve Bitterly





The Oasis Reporters

 



May 29, 2022

 

 

 





 



My experience with University alumni politics election by Bayo Adeyinka

 



I wasn’t expecting any call so early in the morning. It was barely 6.00am and the call jolted me from sleep. It was one of the few days when I’m still asleep at that time. My alarm is almost perpetually set to 5.30am and even when it is not, my internal biological clock wakes me up at that time.

 

 





I stretched my hand to pick my phone. I didn’t look at the screen to check if I knew the caller but I knew the voice. From the way I sounded, he should have known that I was really displeased with that call at that hour of the day but I guess he couldn’t be bothered.



‘My President’, he hailed me. He poured encomiums on me. Initially, he went on about how the outgoing President disappointed him and so many personal promises were not kept.



I’d heard those lines so many times. I knew there can never be any thunder without rain. But I’d learnt to listen and keep my composure even when I’m being deceived.

Just play the fool.
Appear stupid.

I wanted their votes. I was contesting for the position of the President of our University Alumni Association. So I listened as the caller went on.



‘I have good news for you. I have secured two additional delegates from my state for you. They have committed to vote for you’, he announced with glee.



The way he passed across the information, you would have thought he just got the cure for Ebola fever.

‘Wow’, I exclaimed.

 


But before I could thank him, he added the clincher, ‘ You will have to give each of us N30,000 and that makes it N90,000 for three votes. I will text my account number to you. Please let me know once you credit my account’.

I was enraged. I couldn’t hold myself again.

I asked him, ‘N30,000 for what? To vote for me? So how many people am I going to give N30,000 to for an ordinary alumni election?’



He appeared shocked and couldn’t respond.


I continued, ‘I am coming to serve and you want me to pay you so you can vote for me? Am I going there to enrich myself? What exactly is the big deal about alumni elections?’


By then he had found his voice. He retorted, ‘Oga, that is how they do it. You don’t know politics, sir’.



I was shocked. Not really because he asked for money before he could vote for me. But more because he was actually looking for a job and I had arranged an interview for him. I couldn’t believe he could jettison all that for a mere N30,000.



So I decided to confront him frontally. I told him I was disappointed in him and couldn’t believe he would forget how I was trying to help him secure a job that will guarantee him a better life. I ended the call by telling him I’m not going to pay anyone to vote for me. If he wanted to vote for me based on conviction, he should go ahead. If he’s not convinced, he could vote otherwise.


He would later report me to another person on the same day by saying I was too stubborn and didn’t understand how to play politics.

I also remember a fellow who pretended to support me but I knew he was playing the double game. He would give me some information about the opponent but I knew he was giving them information about me also. Anyone who leaks other people’s secrets to you will leak your own to others also.


He told me he wanted to hold his wedding and he needed to pay up for the hall. He had some part of the money. So I transferred N60,000 to him. He called me daily. He told me how much he wanted me to win and how I was a different kind of leader.


And then one day, he decided to over reach himself. He sent me a text that he needed to get a cow for his in-law and one for himself also among some other things.


I chuckled. On top of just an alumni election? That was the last time I responded to his call. He was also a delegate.


On one occasion, a delegate in Ekiti State who had agreed on a date and schedule with me and had also been informed by me that I was on my way when I touched down at Ibadan from Abuja later called me when I was already at Ile-Ife that he was no longer available.



All my pleas fell on deaf ears. He insisted something urgent came up.


On another occasion, another delegate who gave me his home address in Osun State and asked me to come later called me when I was almost at his house that his supervisor at work just sent for him.



I told him I will turn back and come and meet him in the office. I was asked to park by the roadside and wait for instructions. After almost 30 minutes, he told me he was on the way to Ede with his supervisor and would see me if I could wait till the next day.



One guy actually told me he won’t vote for me because I won’t buy beer for him. He didn’t care about my manifesto. But that’s not all. I travelled very widely sharing my manifesto. I went to Abuja to meet with the Chapter and other locations such as Ibadan, Ilorin, Osogbo, Akure and so on.



My manifesto?

I set out my plan to have an Alumni Empowerment Scheme where Chapters can form clusters of Cooperative Societies and access loans from Development Finance Institutions.



It will also include an Entrepreneurship Development Centre where alumni can be trained for a minimum of 6 weeks on different economic empowerment skills for as low as N5,000.


I wanted to set up what I called the Business Opportunity for Networking and Development (BOND) that will hold twice a year and will involve job fairs, trade and product exhibitions, etc.

 


I also wanted to set up an Alumni Microfinance Bank- take off capital then was N20m. Each State Chapter was to have 5% shareholding.


I outlined plans to put alumni members under the National Health Insurance Scheme and had actually initiated moves to that end.


We were also going to have a Benevolence Fund for critically ill members.



There was to be an Alumni Mentoring Scheme divided into two parts: the Alumni Speaker Series where outstanding Alumnus and non-alumnus will be invited to speak to undergraduates and inspire them and the Return to Campus Programme where alumni will visit the campus quarterly to interact with students in and outside the classroom.


I also had the Adopt a Student Initiative where brilliant but indigent students will be given tuition loans which will be returned whenever they get employed.




During my tour, I told members at the chapters that I won’t even touch the alumni dues. We will save them as a form of endowment for the future. God has blessed many alumni members who are doing well and are willing to contribute significantly provided they see a leadership they can trust.



A day before the election, I organized two buses to convey delegates from Ibadan and Osogbo to the venue of the election. I had booked 2 hotels in Ogbomoso to accommodate the delegates. Those were the delegates I perceived were on my side- well, one could never truly tell. Many of them had a leg both ways.


I hired a party planner who cooked for the delegates on Friday afternoon, night and Saturday morning. On Friday night, they asked me to buy drinks. I gave them money to get whatever they wanted.



I needed as many delegates as possible to win the election. Our constitution gave power to delegates to vote for the President and other alumni exco members. Each State or cluster where there is a Chapter presented 3 delegates who are members of the State Chapter Exco. Some States had more than one Chapter so they had multiple delegates.



On the day of the election, we had a stalemate. There was an uproar about the list of delegates. There were skirmishes. I sat there stupefied. It was simply unbelievable. If all this was about an alumni election, what do we expect when the stakes are higher?


The election was inconclusive and we all had to depart. All my delegates entered the buses I hired to take them back to their destination. As I thanked them for their support and turned to enter my car, someone whispered to me that the delegates could not leave empty-handed. They came all the way to support me. I nodded as I had to part with cash.



Mentally, I made a calculation of all I spent – Tee Shirts, badges, roll-up banners, cost of travel, security, food, drinks, hotel bookings for more than 40 people and so on.
Was it worth it?
Just so I could serve?



When I got back home, my wife consoled me and reminded me that she warned me not to contest. She now made a statement that redefined the whole process for me.



She said, “You want to take the food of those who have considered the Alumni as their feeding trough from them. They will fight you with all they have”. I decided to pull out. It just wasn’t worth it. Till date, that experience remains the biggest regret of my life.



Now, transmit and relate my experience to the ongoing shenanigans across parties in Nigeria.


I have shared the story to show the weakness of the delegate party system as we have in Nigeria today.


The party delegate is so vulnerable. They care only about today and not the future. They see this opportunity as their only chance to ‘make it’. They are not thinking about posterity rather they are thinking about their pockets. That is why delegates don’t worry about manifestos. Keep your grandiose plans and let them have the dollar. They are for the highest bidder.




This system will not produce the best candidate. It is programmed to elevate mediocrity over competence.


Unfortunately, you can’t win elections on social media. There is no voting booth on Twitter. There are no wards on Facebook. When it comes to brass tacks, everything comes down to the delegates. And there’s only one way to vote when you’re hungry.

Written by Bayo Adeyinka.

Adeyinka is a public affairs analyst.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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