…and the world changed again

Yes, this is a continuation of the last one. No, it is not about China. Although I will promise here that the China talk will come. Sneak peek — China is a democracy, and I’ll defend that thesis when I feel like.

Now, on to Nigeria…

Our elections have proved again, and again, that this popular democracy thing does not quite work here. There are too many people who are hungry and starving, and are frankly uninformed. That is the perfect storm for a moneyed elite who have no skin in the game except how to make even more money. So, how do we change this discussion?

My friend Zeal, with whom I share some “insurgent” ideas, made some suggestions a few days ago:

1) Increase the cost of international passports to ₦100k (yes people will complain, but they pay much more for visas and tickets) 
2) Register everyone in the voters registers using biometrics and issue a green and red PVC. Green cards would be eligible to vote and only issued to passport holders. 
3)We could also only register valid tax payers or those who have paid a minimum amount of tax over a 5 year period or something. 
4) Red cards would be those who willingly declined their voting rights for a payment of say ₦5,000. If you would give up your voting right for ₦5k, you really shouldn’t vote. This would imply that to buy a single vote, each candidate would need to cough up ₦105,000.

He then pointed out that every successful country has devised a system that allows their own style democracy to work. In the UK, Gordon Brown became PM without anyone going to the polls. Trump is US president-elect despite Clinton having more votes. I could point out John Major, Theresa May, George W Bush, etc, but what’s the point. He is right on that score, but there are some things he’s not thought about…

We have to take into account the following: our proclivities, which mean that political office is very rewards based around these parts. Simply increasing the cost of an international passport to ₦100k ($225 as per last night’s closing exchange rate) won’t really solve the problem as those with a penchant for buying elections will simply raise their investment, and expect a commensurate raise in the “returns” of office. However it is a first step, and a step that should be taken in conjunction with others.

Then we must take into account another elephant in the room — Nigeria’s changing demographics. Among the ten most populated countries in the world, Nigeria has the fastest growth rate. In another two decades we will be number three. Now, let us consider the following — taking Nigeria as components (six geo-political zones), you find that the fastest growth rates are in the North-West, North-East, South-South, North-Central, South-West and South-East). The fastest growing regions, coincidentally happen to be the regions with the worst indices in education.

In two decades, they will be without any contest, the most populated regions in Nigeria, and they will be filled with illiterates. Illiterates tend to be amenable to the whims of their elite, especially if that elite figure a way to keep them fed. At that point, they will win any popular vote simply based on the weight of their numbers.

You think Northern Elite domination is bad now? Just wait and see what will happen in another two decades. The days of a powerful President who can do no wrong in the centre have to come to an end, and come to an end pretty quickly. Regionalism is the way forward, for the simple reason that it will give us an incentive to compete, and improve the quality of our electorate. When the quality of our electorate improves, then maybe, we have a chance to have proper elections. But do our elite want it?

To be continued.