PREPARATIONS for the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State have again raised the issue of the highly monetised nature of Nigerian politics.
The ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, generated N163m from selling expression of interest and nomination forms to aspirants. Last Saturday, APGA disqualified six of the aspirants. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, raked in N184m from the same exercise.
APGA’s nomination form cost N10m for men and N5m for women. PDP charged same rate of N10m for both men and women. These expenses are outrageous at the entry point of the gubernatorial race. It gives room for candidates to violate the Electoral Act which pegs the expenses candidates should incur in elections.
Section 91 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (amended) provides that, “The maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a Governorship election shall be two hundred million Naira (N200, 000,000).” Aspirants are spending a lot of money informally to gain the attention of party leaders.
Though Section 91 (8) of the Electoral Act excludes pre-nomination expenses from the N200m ceiling, PDP’s decisions on ward delegates would ultimately exclude ordinary people from the election or hand over the nomination process to the highest bidder.
Ward delegates for the special congress used to pay N100; PDP has raised it to N10, 000 per ward delegate. Where are delegates supposed to get the money? Whoever is able to pay for delegates would get the votes, those who cannot pay are excluded from participation.
Senator Uche Chukwumerije said aspirants were bearing huge election costs, which should be addressed for the sustenance of our democracy.
Nigeria is quickly drifting into plutocracy. No poor man can contest elections in the country and “no meaningful election and democracy can stand if the aspirant cannot bear the cost of presenting himself and contesting the poll,” Chukwumerije said.
In an election, a candidate, aside campaign expenses, picks up the bill of the party and campaign leaders, such as their children’s school fees, hospital bills, sponsoring wedding ceremonies, burial ceremonies and so on. These gestures are small parts of the obligations of any person seeking elective office and not counted as expenditure. Nigerians of moderate means cannot afford these unending expenditures.
Only money bags or those they bankroll can win elections in Nigeria. This should not be the case because the country is replete with intelligent men and women of moderate means, who can re-direct the ship of the Nigerian state.
Monetisation of politics poses dangers to our politics. Winners use state resources to offset electoral expenses. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should monitor electoral expenses more effectively to save our politics.