It was Sigmund Freud who asserted that “human psychology is tied to the structure of the society” a term he much later referred to as “Super Ego”. Freud wanted his subjects to know that; though they feel free in making their own choices, their choices were set by society and it confines their views and perspectives. Thus limiting their widest imaginations and limiting their psychological horizons.
For instance, a woman who grew in the Middle East, precisely in Saudi Arabia in the early 1990s may feel the urge to own any car of her choice. Though this may be her choice, the society does not allow her to drive the car; At such, her wildest imagination will only revolve around how to own a certain car, but definitely not how to drive one.
In Nigeria today, we have been made to believe that in a democracy our choice is respected and our views revered. Though this may not be a lie, it is definitely a limitation of our vastest imagination and psychological confinement. Even though we have the freedom of franchise, the freedom itself was created in a pseudonym of political liberty, where people are implied to believe they are part of something but in reality are only a trifle of it. Consequently, the masses are meant to believe that they were the ones who brought the leaders into power. Yet what was clearly hidden is the fact that the choices presented to the masses were first decided by the societal bourgeois, political cabals, and opinion leaders.
In what is generally referred to as “primary elections” systemize in a two-party system that has been hidden in the manifold of a multi-party system. This was evident in the 2019 general elections where the two political parties proved more potent than the persons involved, and still showcasing itself in the current Edo state where only two political parties seem to be running the show, while the rest are just mere spectators
Conversely, the society and the gimmicks of political parties have already structured our political choices to believe that it’s either this or that. While those that even presented the dual choices, through primary elections are not up to 10% of the population, it is valid to say that democracy in Nigeria may be for the people, by the people but definitely not with the people.
For instance, The 2019 general election recorded the lowest turnout in Nigeria’s 20-year history as a democracy, especially in the South. The BBC reported that despite recording over 73 million registered voters, only a third of the electorate showed up. The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) specifically described the elections as marred by severe “operational and transparency shortcomings” including thugs infiltration and snatching of ballot boxes.
A report by Premium Times revealed that over 600 persons were killed due to political unrest related cases which were predominant during the 2019 general elections. The preponderance of all these imbalances in both election results and violence during elections has been proposed by many to be fanned by the supporters of these political parties.
The enormous money that is involved in passing through primary elections has made money the basic requirement for leadership. Hence, in most cases the highest bidder gets the office, perhaps it’s no wonder we keep suffering from terrible leadership and bad governance.
For example, according to a report published in 2018 by BBC, a senator in Nigeria is entitled to N13.5m monthly, equivalent to $37,500, plus a monthly payment of more than $2,000 which sums up to about N750,000. If politics have become a gate pass through which wealth is acquired via a juicy monthly payment, then this is perhaps why primary elections have become an important affair for political parties to choose who gets the job and which on most occasions is offered to the one that will pledge allegiance to the party. Misappropriation of loyalties begins to exist at the detriment of a virile democracy and active citizenship.
In order to create a better political structure, widened choices and present more democratic preferences, political parties need to have an affordable entrance ticket, and political institutions need to have fewer charge fees to individuals who credible and seeking to represent their people. Even though most Nigerians have been accustomed to accept that politics is all about money, it will be foolhardy to blame anyone because that is what the society has made all to believe.
Nonetheless, to effect a change in society, we have to start questioning the structure that holds the foundations of what we believe in. We have to question each evolution with a revolution.
As Karl Max stated that “the masses that hold the power to the society are meant to believe that they are powerless by those who own the means of production and the dream to become like them (bourgeois) keeps the masses in calm hypnosis, waiting for a dream that may never turn into a reality”. No doubt Democracy is a good system but it can even be utilized far better if money and primary elections are not the dominant gateways. Though we are free, we still walk in the chains that we may not realize presently, because we have been hypnotized in a democratic system that only seems to favour a few.