June 25, 2019

Corruptive party nomination fees

BAYELSA WEST: Violence mars exercise at Ekeremor, Sagbama

IT would seem that heavy criticism of the major political parties for their prohibitive cost of nomination forms for elective offices have fallen on deaf ears.

Ahead of the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa off-cycle governorship elections the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had announced the increase of its governorship ticket forms by more than 300 per cent from N6 million in the recently-concluded general election to a whopping N20 million.

PDP and particularly the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, were thoroughly lambasted for the shylock price tags on their Expression of Interest and Nomination forms in this year’s general elections.

The APC charged N45m for the Presidential: Governorship: N22.5m; Senate: N7m; Reps: N3.5m; and House of Assembly: N850,000. The PDP had been much more considerate. It charged N12m for Presidential; Governorship: N6m: Senatorial, N4m; Reps: N1.5m; and State House of Assembly: N.6m.

These figures differed dramatically from those of 2015, during which the APC, as an opposition party, had charged N27.5m and PDP N22m for their respective presidential Expression of Interest and Nomination forms.

Infuriated by what he described as “monetisation” of the nomination process, an APC presidential aspirant, Mr. Christmas Akpodiete, had dragged the APC, PDP, INEC and the Attorney General of the Federation to the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Considering that these fees are usually non-refundable, many aspirants end up being scammed because in most cases party leaders already knew who they wanted for specific positions and still collected these monies from unsuspecting aspirants only to leave them in the lurch. After her brother, Dr. Mahmud Halilu Ahmed, was allegedly schemed out of the Adamawa governorship primaries, Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, openly lashed out at the APC leadership for what she called an “act of impunity”.

Party leaders argue that the money raised through these expensive nomination forms are used to run the affairs of their parties, including the conduct of primaries, payment of staff and funding of campaign expenses. Political parties tend to capitalise on their perceived popularity or viability as election-winning machines to exploit candidates, especially as elected officials show little interest in funding party activities after winning elections.

This is a wrong and highly corruptive strategy to raise funds with which to run party affairs. People who pay through the nose to get elected see it as a licence to steal the people’s money when they gain access to the public till.

Political parties should be able to fund their activities from the contributions of members. This makes for greater accountability and transparency in governance.

We strongly condemn this exploitative strategy and call on political parties to learn from more advanced democracies like USA, UK, India and others where corrupt exploitation of ambitious politicians is strictly kept under check to minimise corruption in government.