By Kurtis Adigba

Discovering the Problem of Nigeria – the Patronage/Spoils System

Posted on: July 27, 2020

Those used to the Spoils System – preference of political connection to merit – are having a hard time accepting that Nigeria should be organized differently.

They prefer we continue with the system where appointments, allocation of resources, privileges, opportunities, are done solely on connection to those in power, and not merit or any other consideration.

They are used to the government choosing winners and losers in the economy; they want everything for doing nothing.

The patronage system is also known as the spoils system where a political party or a candidate of a political party after they win an election offers jobs and opportunities to friends, relatives and supporters as a reward and incentive to keep their loyalty for the party.

Atiku Abubakar, former VP and the presidential candidate of the PDP, was in Lagos sometime ago for a Town Hall meeting with business leaders.

At some point, he said”

As president, I will not enrich members of my family, but I will enrich my friends. When we were in government, the president and I did not enrich our family members, but we enriched our friends.

Atiku Abubakar

There is nothing wrong with enriching your friends”. Some people clapped for him. I cringed.

Here lies the root of our problems: the patronage system. No government should encourage a patronage system in which the government is responsible for choosing Winners and Losers.

The responsibility of government is to provide and create an enabling environment where people playing by the rules and the laws and using their God-given talents and skills, can excel and become rich and successful, not through a connection in the government, or friendship.

Atiku’s reputation and proclivity for the emasculation of due process and shadowy transaction, which he has now elevated to the level of public policy, is troubling. As a nation, we have been plagued with this evil issue. This was the issue that dominated the quarrel between him and Obasanjo.

How many of us still remember the PTDF saga where Atiku was accused by Obasanjo, of giving the funds of the agency to his friend, Mike Adenuga, of GLO?

Atiku claimed then that the fund was placed with Adenuga’s Bank, and not an attempt to put government funds at his disposal of a friend to help him pay for the GSM license, Adenuga, was processing at the time.

The funds were meant for the development of local contents in the Petroleum industry. We lost that opportunity because of the patronage system.

The matter was never resolved satisfactorily to many Nigerians. Atiku’s statement has reopened the horrible wounds in many hearts.

We cannot afford another “paddy paddy” government in Nigeria (apologies to Fela). We need a government that is open and inclusive, not one out to enrich friends and impoverish enemies. Atiku, by his statement, gave us a peep into his heart and intentions. Thank you, AA, for letting us know your clear intentions!

They sold Electricity licenses to their friends, and left the rest of us in pitch darkness!

Don’t empower them by voting for “their guy”.

What do you think can be done to reduce or probably eliminate the patronage system in Nigeria?

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Kurtis Adigba

Kurtis Udenyi Adigba is an Attorney at law and a political consultant. His greatest passion is to see Nigeria make real progress and to take her rightful place in the world. He is keen on improving and enhancing the processes of democracy. He believes that politics is the greatest force for doing the greatest good and is not a blood sport as many people think.
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