POLITICAL PARTIES NOMINATION FEE: INVESTMENT OR EXTORTION?
Nigeria is now in a political season when interested party members jostle to emerge as the flag bearers of their various political parties, in preparedness for the forthcoming election into different public offices.
From different news reports, obtaining a nomination form to contest in the primaries is at a cost which is beyond the reach of majority of Nigerians, in effect it seems contesting in an election is an exclusive right of the money bags whose legitimate source of wealth are mostly questionable, or for candidates being sponsored by some ''godfathers'' who see their sponsorships as purely business investment which must yield dividends at all cost.
Going by news account, it costs Five million five hundred thousand naira (N5.5 million) i.e. Thirty five thousand eight hundred and fifty four U.S. dollars($35,854) or Twenty two thousand eight hundred British pounds (E22,835) to pick a state governorship nomination form, and about Eleven million naira (N11m)i.e. Seventy one thousand seven hundred and eight dollars (71,708 U.S. dollars) or Forty five thousand, six hundred and seventy eight pounds ( 45,678 British pounds) to pick the Presidential nomination form under the platform of the ruling party (Peoples Democratic Party). However, we wait to see what other parties will charge for similar forms.
If the cost of obtaining these nomination forms are not ridiculous in a country where an average family lives on less that $5 a day, and about 70% of the population live below poverty level, then I do not know how else to qualify it.
In my opinion, this development is nothing but a recipe for perpetuation of corruption in political offices. It will take whoever that becomes the President four years to recoup the cost of obtaining his nomination form at the rate of two million seven hundred and fifty thousand naira per year (N 2750000). Same is applicable to other political offices in relation to what they pay for their nomination forms. Under this circumstance, the occupiers of elective offices have been incentivized to help themselves with public fund; it is only a fool who will invest such a huge amount of money to get into a public office without finding crooked means of having returns on his or her investments.
Aside from the corruption tendencies that the huge costs tend to promote, it is also a form of disenfranchisement and discrimination against the masses that cannot afford the cost but interested in exercising their rights to stand in an election. I strongly feel that these fees should be revisited.
It will be interesting to know how costly similar forms will be in some advanced democracies such as United Kingdom and U.S.A. where the economy is more buoyant, and poverty level, lower.
If we truly want to create a level playing field in our body polity, eradicate money politics, make godfatherism a thing of the past, and hold the political office holders accountable, the political parties have big roles to play by ensuring that contestants are charged reasonable fees, and electioneering financing made more transparent.
This is my opinion, other thoughts are welcome.
Adebanji Dada, Executive Director, Advocate of Rule of Law & Human Dignity, Chicago, IL, U.S.A.