The Politics of ‘Rice’ and American PAC Billions

Rice is part of Nigeria’s Democracy in the same way lobbying/PAC Billions are a part of US Democracy – let not some fake intellectuals begin to write some fancy articles and position papers with the buzzword Stomach Infrastructure – which has been systematically introduced into our national discussions simply because our pseudo-intellectuals – who are staunch supporters of the APC lost the EKITI elections to PDP!

aregbe-rice2

Democracy has never been for free in Nigeria – or indeed any part of the world – monies have always been raised and spent in every election cycle to win votes in every democracy – Barack Obama has had to raise close to $2.5Bn to contest two back-to-back elections just as Hillary Clinton, possibly the next President of the US is currently being alleged to be using part of the $1Bn war-chest that has been raised by the Clinton Foundation in pursuing her vision to become the first female President of the US in its 230+ years of the nation’s existence.

 

Call me a lover of FoxNews if you please, but even if that wasn’t entirely true there is no way she won’t need to raise at least $1Bn+ plus within the next 2 years if she is going to be a strong contender for the position – not when she would be competing against Republicans like the Texan Governor with tons of Texan Billionaires willing to bankroll him.

 

So what are PACs? They are Political Action Committees [Google.com is your best friend; use it] – this is what can best be described as the Nigerian equivalent of “Campaign Financiers” – the US Supreme Court has even given a judgment that practically suggest “there is no limit to the funds that PACs can put together to fund campaigns once they follow the LAW by disclosing the sources of such to Federal Election Commission [FEC]”- well in reality, some PACs still find ways of hiding where these funds come from [watch House of Cards Season 2]

 

This is where I’ll like to bring in the subject of Rice PACs – we have heard so much about how FAYOSE distributed Rice in EKITI and even though FAYEMI also distributed Rice, our media and super-analysts have made sure that the ‘Uncle Bens Rice’ distributed by the winner of the elections has remained what has enveloped the airwaves compared to the ‘Ofada Rice’ distributed by the loser of the elections – and these analysts and scholars have deliriously introduced the phrase – Stomach Infrastructure to suggest that “the PDP has used Rice to supplant the reasoning faculties of Ekiti people against  making the right decision as to who to vote having voted out the super-performer, FAYEMI” – this is a narrative they have sold at home and to the world – even Christianne Amanpour jumped on that train to ask Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala similar questions about that election!

Well, I have come to the conclusion that these guys can best be described as Intellectual Nazis – they have mastered the art of creating particular narratives that favor their own cause – that cause of making sure APC takes over Aso Rock in 2015 – they make sure they spread such via articles; Op-eds, published locally and abroad; they go to international conferences to repeat these same cooked-up and misleading theories; and of course, they also happen to be local research and media consultants to all the international media houses – they are the ones that lead the narratives that they want the world to believe of Nigeria – the one that suggest that “Nigeria is currently a mad house that can only be rescued when the opposition party – APC takes over office!” Sad!

So I am tempted to ask if these guys are not aware of PACs and indeed Super PACs in the US; I am tempted to ask if these guys have been blind to how elections has always been funded in Nigeria over the course of the last 15 years – as though these same people are not media contractors to all our Politicians; as though some of these people are not the ones that collect contracts to supply branded T-Shirts; Caps; Pens; Umbrella; Brooms; and yes, Branded Rice!

 

A few weeks ago, the Chairman, Publicity Committee of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, Dr. Celey Okogwu, had disclosed at a press conference that “the Association’s business projection for 2014 is that N20 billion that would be spent on political campaigns” and only last week the same AAAN held a forum where Stakeholders in Nigeria’s political and advertising sectors advocated for the involvement of experts in the design and handling of all political campaigns ahead of the 2015 elections.

 

What does that tell you? Our educated elites have always been part and parcel of the spending of campaign funds in Nigeria – and as you can see, they want an even bigger chunk of the pie yet what do you have, these same guys and their friends in the media would write articles suggesting that “there is too much free flow of monies within our politics and that these monies are the reasons why people want to kill themselves to be part of Nigerian politics” – this must also be studied against the background that over the last two major election cycles in Nigeria, social media has given birth to a new subset of media consultants – the bloggers who smile home with a good chunk of the monies allocated to these elections.

 

So why is it that all of a sudden, everyone seems to remember that “the poor people of Ekiti collected Rice” when our educated elites have been collecting Cash all these years as consultants to offer varying services to Politicians – before, during and after elections – no be cash dem dey take buy rice? Who supplies the rice? Who supplies the vehicles that convey the rice? Who administers the distribution of the rice? Was Ekiti the first time rice was shared in the history of Nigerian elections? Who collects the cash that is disseminated to the various local wards within the nation on behalf of those that it is eventually distributed to? Who provides entertainment at the rallies? Who collects the monies for the Adverts – on TV, Radio, and Billboards?

 

And has anyone of these people ever cared about where the monies they collect come from? Your guess is as good as mine – they don’t care – they collect the funds knowing they come from state coffers and acolytes of politicians – and say “Ha, na my own share I dey collect so o; the Ogas at the top dey chop more!”

 

Then the same people – who were very active and consulted for both sides in Ekiti would come and invent the phrase “Stomach Infrastructure” after they have lost the elections to try and ridicule the electoral process there – after they have benefited from the same thing.

 

I close by saying that it is high time Nigerians stopped this duplicity of pretending as though they don’t know that monies flow freely within the system leading to elections – the truth is many of them partake of these slush funds; perhaps they should simply get INEC to legitimize this – get the body to register lobbying firms, agencies – similar to our own version of PACs – in such a way that these funds can be appropriately taxed – enough of this hypocrisy, please!

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