Politics in Nigeria is usually called a dirty game because of the many obnoxious processes involved in becoming a public office holder. These processes are an open secret. Some go as far taking lives just to actualize their dream. Reason many young, visionary and decent people have refused to participate, leaving the bad and the ugly at the helm of affairs. It is interesting to note that it wasn’t always like this. Pre-independence, the Nigerian political space was littered with ONLY the well educated, intelligent and enlightened. To excel in the space then, you needed to display your intellectual prowess and eloquence. That however isn’t the case anymore. Things took a downward slope after the coup and it became apparent that power could only be attained by force and absolute brutality.
In 1999, at the return of democracy, many ex military officers contested making it look like they just took off their uniforms to replace it with the “Agbada”. Only a few young people were given the chance to participate. As the years went by, things began to change slowly; more young people began to see that there was an opportunity for them in politics. Although many studied political science and public administration in school, that is never a prerequisite for a political office in Nigeria. All it takes is a decision and the commitment to see it through. There are several structures starting from the ward level, to the local council development area, to the local government, to the constituency, to the senatorial district, to the state and finally to the federal level. One could begin by first registering to join a political party at the ward level, participate in their weekly meetings, consult and relate with relevant stakeholders and thereafter make your intention known.
Never forget that prospering in the Nigerian political space is not just about ideas, education and eloquence but principally about how connected you are. You may call it having a “god father”. Nigeria politics is a politics of settlement, the sooner you have this understanding the easier things will work for you. You may be asked to wait your turn as there is usually an arrangement that is based on tribe, ethnicity and religion. It is called the “zoning formula”. The Nigeria political space is a very difficult terrain for women but there are a few who have excelled regardless.
If you are not interested in an elective position for example, there are many other ways you can serve in government but it is mostly based on your membership of the political party in power. You can serve as a minister, a commissioner, a special adviser, a special assistant, a personal assistant, an ambassador or high commissioner, director of an agency, head of department, etc. All these positions are non elective positions but it is still based on your connection to the people that matter.
The Nigeria political space is a very competitive one. So, as it is said, it is always the survival of the fittest. What qualifies you is your citizenship of Nigeria and your secondary school leaving certificate. Coupled with the fact you would have to be thirty five years old by the time you are contesting for any office.