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The Bane of Good Governance

The issue of cost of running for an elective position in Nigeria as a politician has once again kept tongues wagging, as Nigeria races towards the much awaitedgeneral election come 2023.

There is no denying the fact that it takes money to run for an elective position, right from the stage of purchasingnomination form, getting votes from delegates during the primaries and obtaining supports of the electorates during campaigns. At this juncture, it is expedient to opine thateach election is more expensive than the one before. The administrative machinery calls for great resources, and the parties and candidates are also expected to spend money to guarantee success at the polls. It cannot be pooh-poohed that Nigerians are once again heading to that point where politicians are seen to be throwing a lot of figures around. Though some may at that point be seen running a modest campaign, while others who dedicate themselves to a lavish run will be required to expend many tens or hundreds of millions of naira.

That the forthcoming election would be costly to run to the detriment of good governance, most especially as the schedule of fees for expression of interest and nomination forms released by the National Working Committee (APC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) shows thatPresidential is N100m, governorship is N50 million, Senate N20 million, House of Representatives N10 million, while state House of Assembly aspirants would purchase theirs at N2 million.

As gathered, the N100 million for Presidential nomination form is over 100 per cent increase from the amount the ruling party sold the form for the same office in 2018 at N45 million; and nearly 200 per cent hike from N27 million it sold forms in 2014. The N100 million fee is also more than double the fee of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which fixed its Presidential nomination form at N40 million.

Also as gathered from an analytical view expressed in theonline edition of the Guardian newspaper of today, April 22, 2022, “The N100 million set by the APC for aspirants seeking to run for president is far higher than the four-year salaries of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo. With the current salary of the President, which is put at N14.058 million yearly or N1.171 million monthly, according to a breakdown by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, it means that the N100 million APC nomination form is the salary of the President for about 85 months or seven years.

“For the Vice President who currently earns N12.126 million yearly or N1.01 million monthly, the N100 million nomination form is his salary for 99 months or eight years and three months”.

The cost of running for an elective position is not just about the purchase of nomination forms as electioneering calls for money to conduct polls, feed supporters, transport them to meeting venues, set up meetings, and hand outmonetary gifts to party favors, while taking care of advertising and other activities. Where does all that money come from? Most persons who enter politics are not wealthy individuals, so they have to raise money to fund their campaigns. Here’s where it can get interesting: If donors are criminals or big businesses intent on hijacking the politician, he or she will forever be trying to repay them for donations made. To a large extent, doling out money to supporters while in office on account of their supports during campaign makes bad governance inevitable. Then, looking at the foregoing scenarios, “will anyone be surprised that most needful things that ought to be done by politicians while in office are not done as they struggle to pay the debts they incurred right from the point of purchasing nomination forms, seeking tickets at the primaries level and carrying out campaigns?

Without any iota of exaggeration, it cannot be out of place to opine that several new entrants to competitive politics usually face difficulties in raising funds and the great demands they face in seeking to win over a constituency.This has even being made worse as the APC has given 50 per cent reduction in nomination fees for women and youths. Despite that, how may youths with legitimate source of income can be able to dole out such huge amount of monies as the release made by the party’s NWC regarding the price of presidential nomination form clearly shows that N50 million remains higher than the 2019 Presidential aspirant fee, which was N45 million.

In fact, a democracy depends on the votes of citizens to survive. In the Nigerian context, a certain apathy has developed towards elections and politicking. This has manifested itself in a marked decline of persons making the trek to the polling both.

Could this apathy have something to do with the fact that so many persons think politicians do not really care about them and are intent on feathering their own nests? In fact, civic-minded individuals feel that this apathy could be reversed if there was meaningful campaign reform to make the electioneering process more transparent.

Ostensibly pricked by conscience, and probably conjecturing that his constituents may wonder how hemanaged to buy nomination form, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said he had planned to spend N50 million on the presidential nomination forms ahead of the 2023 general elections.

His budget has no doubt being disrupted after the APCfixed the price for presidential forms at N100 million. He, however, said his ‘supporters’ will raise the money. To my understanding on this, he is literarily taking his political company to the stock market where his supporters, investors in this case, will buy shares of the company, and by the grace of God, if eventually he becomes Nigeria’s president, will begin to earn their dividends. With this kind of monetize politics, why will Nigeria not be experiencing bad governance from one political dispensation to another?

Mr. Ngige, who joined the presidential race few days ago, during an interview on Channels TV said he will not “crucify” his party for putting the price for presidential nomination forms at N100 million.

“It does not matter whether I am happy with the price or not. That is what my party NEC fixed, I won’t crucify them,” he said.

The presidential hopeful also attempted to justify the party’s decision regarding the price of forms.

The price, he said, was placed so because, after elections, many candidates fail to contribute to the party. This is even as he commended the party for providing ‘discounts’ for the youth.

When asked by the anchor of the programme, SeunOkinbaloye, if he is willing to raise N100 million and purchase the form, Mr. Nigige bragged about having supporters who would willingly do so.

“…I was budgeting N50 million…I have supporters, don’t worry about me. They will contribute.”

While he admitted that the race for the party’s presidential ticket will be a tough one, the minister was convinced that “the best man will win.”

At this juncture, it is expedient to say that the brand of politics that can be likened to “Cash and Carry” which is now been played is by each passing political dispensation making the attainment of good governance impossible as people now see politics as an investment option rather than as an opportunity to serve the people towards the betterment of their country, Nigeria.

Sandra Ijeoma Okoye (Author)

Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”

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