Nigerians have condemned the high cost of expression of interest and nomination forms imposed by political parties on members to contest the various political offices in the country.
They however blame it on the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to control and regulate funding of the election by registered political parties in the country.
The Deputy Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Hon. Adegboye Akintunde (APC), noted that the intent form fee for Presidential aspirants on the platform of APC which is put at N27.5 million was not exorbitant but a reflection of the type of the government that we are running in the country.
Akintunde representing Osogbo State Constituency explained that the nation’s electoral body had been unable to control and regulate the running of affairs of parties regarding the aspirations to political offices and the funding of the election.
“There is no commission regulating the affairs of parties in the country; elsewhere, for general elections, there is a commission regulating the elections which would include how the parties are running their affairs stating the aspirations to the candidacy and the funding of the election.
“This proper regulation of parties in Nigeria is missing and that is why corruption in election and in government is the order of the day.
“In real sense of it, the amount is not too much for anybody aspiring for the presidency of a country like Nigeria, not forgetting that the party itself would promote the candidate in the general election with the campaign in all the 36 states of the country.
“Whoever emerges as the candidate does not alone bankroll the electioneering campaigns but his/her goodwill must be able to carry him to a length and that is the reason why APC national chairman proffered that the amount is to differentiate between the ‘boy and the man’.
“The fee is not in any way too much. What is necessary is to have Electoral Commission that would regulate spending on election by individual parties,” he stated.
He said the law as amended by the National Assembly to allow independent candidates will in no way affect the modus operandi of the party politics we are used to.
“If it is not practically working in the advanced countries, I cannot see how it would affect the right candidates to have a space in our polity.
However, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Lekan Balogun, described it as monetisation of democracy. He said: “It is wrong, it is undemocratic, it is not likely to throw up the best candidate.
“The best candidate may not necessarily be the richest candidate. In the civilised democracies, the wealthy/rich people often place their wealth at the service of the real intelligent political activists and usually, the amount required is minimal that most people can afford it.
“My mind boggles at the millions of Naira being demanded by political parties from aspirants; it’s very sad. It is probably pardonable for some political parties, whose members don’t claim to be progressives, but, it is certainly much worse for the party that tags itself progressive.
“The idea of independent candidacy may not necessarily be the solution; such people may be very rich and can buy their way through at the expense of those who are committed to democracy. The answer is to demonetise the democratic process,” the former lawmaker said.
Speaking in the same vein, a lawyer and an activist, Femi Aborisade, described it as monetisation of politics in Nigeria and posited that “it is essentially aimed at excluding the poor from having access to political power and/or to subject them to being robotically subservient to their political godfathers.
“However, if the constitutional amendment which allows independent candidature is successfully passed, it may reduce the tendency of monetisation of the process, but may not completely eliminate it.
“This is because, not many candidates for election may have the social stature and/ or resources to independently build the political structure to conduct and finance elections,” he stated.
Jonathan Enegide, a Benin based lawyer, in his own reaction said: “First of all, there is freedom of association, any political party has its prerogative to regulate its operation, membership and indeed finance.
“All these are governed by inbuilt rules and regulations. The right to aspire to any position is voluntary. Where political parties decide to fix various amounts for the purchase of expression of interest and nomination forms, they are acting within their rights legally.
“The issue as to whether the amount is adequate or outrageous is within the realm of moral discourse. This is because the political parties have the right to adopt measures aimed at raising funds to run the parties such as selling forms and raising revenue.
“Moreover, elections all over the world are not cost effective and this is also another means of accessing financial strength and stamina of the aspirant otherwise it becomes an all comer’s affair,” he stated.
Also speaking on the issue, the Head of Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Osun State University, Professor Samson Akinola, said the amount is not too much since those aspiring are corrupt people and not trustworthy and who have stolen money at one level or the other.
“Those that belong to political parties can be asked to pay any amount since they are there to loot and share among themselves. But independent candidates should be allowed to pay about N10,000 and be screened on credibility, manifesto, vision and strategies of actualising the vision,” he stated.
He therefore called on the media and Nigerians to create platforms for the emergence of independent candidates, adding that it is a more viable method to allow those with good track record, pragmatic methods and strategies of redeeming our ailing democratic system to contest.
An aspirant of the Abak Federal Constituency under the platform of PDP and former Deputy Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Uwem Udoma, has described the exorbitant nature of nomination forms for the forth-coming elections as a two-edged sword.
He said such charges might on the one hand, shut out qualified poor Nigerians from seeking elective offices and on the other hand, become necessary to keep the parties equal to their responsibilities.
The former lawmaker who considers this development an unhealthy threat to the nation’s democracy opined that the parties should explored other avenues to generate funds to run the parties and elections other than making it an exclusive preserve of the moneybags.
“I agree that the nomination forms are expensive and very exorbitant and if we continue in that form, it would mean that we are bringing money politics and it’s not going to augur well for people because if you are not able to afford that kind of money, no matter how qualified you may be, you cannot make it. So, it’s only the rich that can make it, and most of the rich people may not have the requirement to be elected.
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