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A new era of political representation

19 August 2015, 22:48

All over the world, most countries adopted the democratic system of governance. This is probably to allow for grassroots governance, reaching down to the electorate even when Pennock and Chapman,1968: Pitkin, 1967 and Schwartz, 1988, all argued that the concept of political representation is misleading.

Nigeria chose democracy too and periodically, elections are held and representatives are chosen at various levels to represent constituencies and be their voices. Representatives make it easier for the government to provide basic amenities to these constituencies and to also regulate their behaviour in order to have a peaceful society because it is the primary role of government to provide for the people, determine what is wrong and put in corrective measures. Not to make money from the people.

What we have today is nothing short of 'self' or 'family' representation and extravagant display of wealth. What do we say about a society laden with the peoples' cries of despair, anguish and hunger on one side and the extravagant display of unimaginable wealth on the other side? Rather than allowing the people enjoy the fruit of their voting, these representatives show that occupying public office is the quickest way to get rich because how would you describe a situation where a politician who was elected to serve for four years has amassed so much and extravagantly displaying properties worth billions of naira while those who elected him wade in abject poverty.

Also read: Thoughts on democracy

And as a result of this kind of display, politics is increasingly becoming a career choice rather than a crusade to better the society. Those vying for public or political offices knife each other to secure advantage and they would do anything ranging from rituals, thuggery, kidnapping, libelous scandals to adultery, rigging of election and assassination, to get there. When they get into office, instead of engaging in programmes that would ameliorate the suffering of the people and create or develop empowerment skills that can translate into jobs, the abuse of office, misappropriation of privileges and influences and public funds, etc, become the only business they know. When they are confronted, these politicians begin to preach inequality even when inequality is considered to be the major threat to freedom.

They forget that due to the natural tendency of people to compare and to envy, inequality creates jealousy. Vanity and alienation. In a democratic settingi, it is important to emphasize the importance of freedom and equality. Am not talking about Aristotle and Nietzsche, who do not believe in equality. I agree that democratic equality cannot mean equality in everything but for the simple fact that every voter has the right to vote and be voted for, the voter has the right to whatever dividend that comes from such voting exercise. Come to think of it, over the years, politicians have violated the trust of the people who believe in fair representation, they have brought the people on their knees and dragged them for far too long that the good thing about fair political representation has been thrown away.

People measure their satisfaction by how well they do in relation to others, rather than on absolute levels of income, especially with the denial of a reasonable minimum wage. Success is not enough, we also want to do better than our peers. So what drive people is not desiccated, rational thought but wishes, fears and values. The people compete costly in the business of living a day-to-day kind of life, knowing that if they do not work harder, they will loose their place on the ladder of life to someone who does. Why is it that the problem of politics in Nigeria is that everybody wants to be a winner and be comfortable which has led to a rise in discontentment?

The reason is simple. Human happiness rises with relative income and it also jumps according to an absolute level of environmental factors, access to good health, good job, marriage and friendship. Now that we have a working government led by a president that has sworn to lead us out of the ugly past, we have come to an era of good governance and good and fair representation. With what is happening presently, our politicians will know now that there is always a day of reckoning.

They should be seeing the importance of town hall meetings with their people and implementation of better-life programmes for the people. And most importantly, they should know that no matter what the ambition is or what motivates them, the power to make a difference and affect the lives of the people positively should be their reason to come into politics.

- MyNews24

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