VIEWPOINT: Categories of Politicians in Nigeria

By Richardson Ogwezzy

Politics is simply the activities involved in getting and using power in public life and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or a society. It could also mean the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government.

A politician is one that engages in political activities. By this, I mean the elected and appointed and those that vote and support them into offices as politicians.

Elected or appointed politicians are the most important people in any given country be it federal, state, local or ward levels. This is because; they are the key players to bringing meaningful changes to the lives of people they are representing.

For some decades now, citizens are not comfortable with democratic governance. The government is characterized by corruption, insecurity, unemployment, poor infrastructural facilities, inadequate representation and politicians with ulterior motives. I have critically analysed and identified some factors as being responsible for inability of Nigerian politicians to perform to expectation. The ages of political office holders were first analysed, it was discovered that they were youths that occupied sensitive positions and they performed distinctively well while they were youths that messed up their positions. The educational qualifications were then considered. The results followed suit, I observed that, there were political office holders with lower educational qualifications like WAEC that performed well while some failed woefully, even there were political office holders that were Professors who could not give accounts of their offices and they were Professors who performed excellently well, by displaying a high level of integrity and were academic while in office. Efforts were made to analyse the experience of political office holders, but there were no yardsticks. This is because political appointments are haphazard and appointments are neither always continuous nor progressive. Observations have equally shown that the types or categories of politicians that exist in a country or State determine to a very high extent the level of governance. Bearing in mind that, tell me your friend and I will tell you who you are.  Tell me the types of political leaders that you have and I will tell you the type of democratic governance you will expect. Though, no efforts were made at anytime in history to find out the types or categories of politicians we have in order to determine the level of governance we expect hence, I have to critically do a study to find out the types of politicians prevalent in Nigeria, in order to suggest an appropriate one for the country, Nigeria.

The following are found to be categories (types) of politicians within our polity.  In Nigeria and even other parts of the world, there are basically six (6) categories (types) of politicians, namely;

Firstly, Supporters group: This involves all those that vote during election, recommend people for political positions, praise or criticise political office holders, or pray for politicians. These sets of people are found in this group.

Even those that claimed, they have political apathy, are in this group, because no one will say, he has no interest in the politics of his country and will not say something good or bad about the country’s political administration or recommends what is good for the country, when someone says the government is either doing well or not, that person is also involved in politics. Will someone say, he has political apathy to the extent that he will not ply on the roads constructed by politicians, use water provided by politicians neither refuse to enjoy facilities provided by them? The meat that one forbids, he does not use his teeth to share it.

This agrees with Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) who succinctly asserts that man is a political animal (being). It is now it came to my realisation.

Secondly, Political Upstarters: These are political office holders, by virtue of a particular situation they found themselves in a high political position, and when such tenure of office expires, they would never be found in politics or be opportune(d) to be in any political position(office).

Thirdly, Seasonal Politicians: These are politicians after being elected or appointed into positions at expiration of such term they could not scale through in future elections or appointments for a long period.  But, suddenly they resurface with one appointment that makes them relevant again. Though, appointment can be given again but is never continuous. This appointment could be either be lower or higher than than former ones. People that fall on this category are politicians that could not understand the political calculations and climate while in office. It takes them period of time to understand the political trend before they come back to political limelight.

Fourthly, Sinusoidal Politicians: Sinusoidal Politicians are those politicians, that accept political offices irrespective of the level of the differences between his previous position he occupied either going upward or downward, he accepts.

They always want to see themselves politically relevant, they take whatever position they see. For instance, a politician having served as a House of Assembly member will accept the position of a Special Assistant (SA) to a Commissioner.

Fifthly, Progressively Stale Politicians: These are the set of politicians, when elected or appointed into office, they remain in the same office (position) year after year, one tenure to another.

They remain there due to the fears of the unknown. They see themselves as being incapable of contesting for a higher political position and they cannot condescend to contest for lower offices or leave the office for others. Hence, they customise the position.

Sixthly, Progressive Politicians: A politician is said to be progressive if the political offices (positions) he occupies is continuous and is in upward order.(higher order). That is, from lower to a higher political office and must also be continuous (always in office). Having progressive politicians in Nigeria has been rare. It is always one in a million.  And, it is like the virtuous women the Bible talked about. These types of politicians are constantly in office right from the beginning of their political life(career), till when they resign. It is worthy to note that,  a progressive politician, does not resign from active politics when he fails an election. Rather, once he attains his political climax (apex), he resigns at the expiration of the office tenure or while in office. Above all, a progressive politician does not negate political zoning or protocol. *There is common  believe that progressive politicians give good representation, this they believe that due to their progressive stay in office make them have more experienced, hence they show accountability to the electorates.

Observations have shown, that for a politician to be progressive, there must be characteristics that distinguishes such from others, it could be that they know the nitty-gritty of politics, know what the electorates need, dance to the tune of the voters and the leaders, must also be accepted by the people and also be a performer and have the ability to carry their people along. In all they must be versed with the rules of political games(that is, being game players).

I am beginning to  see reasons, why some developed countries of the world will not allow people to contest for high political positions, except they have once won and occupied lower elective positions. A politician progressing from State House of Assembly to National House of Representatives to House of Senate etc

I am of the view that Nigerian government, should copy and paste such ideas to our polity, let there be a little refinement in our political system just like other sectors in Nigeria, for examples in the educational sector, you cannot be made the head of institutions, like Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, Secondary or primary school without some wide experience, many

years of service of proven character and passed some stages( ranks). In a similar vein, in the Nigerian para- military for officer to be confirmed with such ranks like Inspector General, and Commandant General  etc also depends on his or her years of service and level of experience. This practice is virtually common in all government sectors.

Though politics may be played in giving such appointments but it is also in a stipulated and acceptable range.

But in Nigeria politics the case is different. Political sector is a sector of all sectors, this is because is the key determinant of the success of all other sectors. The success of other sectors hinge upon the political sector.

It is quite astonishing to know that every other sectors that rely on it, use experience in office,  years of service in appointing heads, but in the political sector which is principal ”baba’ of all sectors does not take any of such conditions into serious considerations.

I am of the opinion that elections into political positions in Nigerian government  should be on echelon(low to high), a politician should first and foremost be elected at local Government level as Councilor or Chairman before proceeding to State political positions then Federal. It will be observed that when politicians go through such processes, they will show  more mature representation and accountability, most especially now that political awareness is at increase. Apart from that, it will give orderliness during electioneering, because aspirants will be restrictive. A cursory view of politicians in the helm of affairs in Nigeria presently,  that have passed through this process are actually the ones that are making  positive impact on their States.

The Federal and the State legislatures should look at this my smattering idea of politics and develop it for posterity sake. The world academia, curriculum planners, political scientists and political educationists all over the world should equally look at the various categories(types) of politicians and fine tune it and be made part of a topic or a topic in  our Political Science and Government Textbooks or related fields, since to the best of my knowledge no effort has been made so far to categorise politicians despite their relevance to our country(society) and the world at large.

Ogwezzy Richardson G.  is a Statistician, Edu. Administrator and a Ph.D candidate of Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria

Ogwezzyrichie@gmail.com

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