Vote Buying: Anambra Alliance Can Shatter The Glass Ceiling in 2021


By Dr. Chima Okoli





Ndi-Anambra are known to be brilliant, courageous and passionate in their vocational and professional endeavours. They are pacesetters and are reputed for showing the light for others to follow. In business and in the professions, Anambra indigenes have been outstanding and are pathfinders.

As the 2021 governorship election approaches, an opportunity beckons for Ndi-Anambra to characteristically break the glass ceiling with regard to the unwholesome nature of money politics, which has become a cankerworm stalling progress in Nigeria. But let me digress albeit relatedly.

There is this video of a not too distinguished female senator lampooning her poor female constituent who approached her for hand-outs to tidy things up in the grim situation of the covid-19 induced hunger pandemic. The doleful looking constituent was given remnants of the senator’s food items and two hundred naira and mocked for perpetually being a sucker by collecting peanuts to vote for the senator and her ilk each time there is election.

I presume this was acted, but it plainly demonstrates the mind-set of translational politics that makes the politician the winner-takes-all and leaves the voter with the scrappy end of the stick. Of course, since nothing was promised and everything was purchased, the expectations of Eldorado by the constituents remain a pie in the sky. Their solace is to wait eagerly for the next election for their pound of flesh. Aware of this, the politicians come back again with wads of money, smoothen their ways through, and the vicious circle continues.

Sadly, the dynasty of poverty continues unabated. Everybody laments and nobody does anything. Frustrated, many seek solace in other lands. Progress moves in snail pace, if at all.

Obviously, post covid-19 will be less bountiful for the politicians to feast on. Oil money is thinning out day by day. The context of the future will be significantly different. The dynamics need to change, if we must truly make progress. States that will succeed in meeting their recurrent expenditures and embark on capital projects must think outside the box.

Without contention, we need ingenious thinkers, hands-on and courageous doers who can play comfortably in the global arena. For such to emerge, we need a new mind-set and political culture that will be anchored on contestation of ideas and values-moulded ideas that can propel our society to new heights for the benefit of all.

Curiously, some people think that this desirable, new mind-set being canvassed will be difficult to crystallise due to the endemic poverty in the land. But they forget that Ndi Anambra are made of different stuff. Our republican nature will possibly be responsible for the diffusion of new ideas that benefit us individually and collectively.

In this respect, I am confident that Ndi Anambra will create what Malcom Gladwell has popularised as the tipping point. Simply explained, this is the point at which a series of small changes or incidents become sufficient to engender a larger, more important change. In this context, an election which outcome will be predicated on ideas and values that advance society and definitely not on voter buying?

Gladwell’s Tipping Point which centres on how little things can make a huge difference is a wake up call to the elite of Anambra to cause the desired change. I have in the past six months, participated actively as a member of Anambra Alliance and I see in the membership and conversations, all the three rules of the tipping point that can produce that magic moment of the critical mass, the threshold or the boiling point on the issue of elections which outcome will be determined by ideas, track record of achievements in public service and values. I think that will make this change catch like wildfire.

The three rules as espoused by Gladwell are the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context.

I have noticed the abundance of talents with different skill sets and natural endowments who clearly fit into Gladwell Gladwell’s “connectors, mavens and salesmen.’’ Also put side by side with the diffusion of innovation theory of innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards, by Prof. Everett Rogers, I am sure that Ndi Anambra in Anambra Alliance and other like-minded associations can begin to cause those little things that have the capacity to make significant difference in our electoral culture.

My optimism is premised on the sufficient hunger I have noticed in the members, especially those that reside outside the state, to return home and contribute towards the development of the state.

In furtherance therefore, I see us working as one, to create the right environment that will enthrone the best candidate as governor. I see us turning elites’ apathy into elites’ activism that will whittle down the politics of buy and sell. The imperative to bring back our cherished culture of oma n’achi (the knowledgeable leads) is urgent and it is my hope that Anambra will typically break the glass ceiling through the little efforts of the connectors, mavens and salesmen in Anambra Alliance. After all, that is the stuff the light of the Nation is known for. And Anambra Alliance, in this prognosis, is only a metaphor for Change Agents who will tame the retrogressive culture of vote buying.

Dr. Okoli is a pharmacist and writes from Abuja