It was Peter Ayo Fayose, the former governor of Ekiti State, who coined the phrase ‘stomach infrastructure' and made it popular. He used the phrase to refer to the age-long political practice in Nigeria in which politicians hand out food items in exchange for support during elections.
This demeaning practice is as old as Nigeria itself. Sadly, the politicians are still deploying the practice today to win elections.
The Punch newspaper has reported how Nigerians on social media lambasted the lawmaker representing Ede North State Constituency in the Osun State House of Assembly, Niran Atidade, over his ridiculous stomach infrastructure strategy.Atidade reportedly distributed packs of Semovita to members of his constituency on behalf of a governorship aspirant in the state, Senator Nurudeen Adeleke, on Sunday.
On each pack of the food items was the bold inscription, “Go and get your PVC so you and I can vote Senator Nurudeen Adeleke as governor in 2022.”
Atidade's action infuriated Nigerians on social media, causing them to express their strong aversion to the practice. However, the encounter soon degenerated into a clash between supporters of the Atidade's People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Those who criticized the practice said it was shameful and demeaning to Nigerians.
Nigerians were particularly miffed because they felt that Atidade represents a generational shift as a young person and should know the right and acceptable thing to do at this time instead of spearheading such a demeaning practice.
However, in a rather shocking reaction to the barrage of criticisms from Nigerians, the Osun State lawmaker unabashedly defended stomach infrastructure politics while labeling those who criticized his action as haters.
“I distributed the food items on Sunday and over 400 people in my constituency benefited. I distribute food items to people every month and I also add money for the widows.
“In this world, you use the language your people will understand best to communicate with them. Those attacking me are haters.”
Atidade's unfortunate response typifies the mindset and thinking of the average Nigerian politician towards the electorate.
Unfortunately, the practice of stomach infrastructure politics would appear even more appealing and relevant now given the prevailing harsh economic realities in the country.
Some Nigerians have argued that the politicians might be deliberately making life unbearably tough for the electorate so that they would deploy the stomach infrastructure strategy to win its support during elections.
It is high time the electorate began to reject that strategy if it ever expect the politicians to discharge their duties effectively while in office for the good of all.
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