Archive Emejuiwe: Debtors And Donors In Election Nomination

Emejuiwe: Debtors And Donors In Election Nomination

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By: Victor Emejuiwe
The cost of governance is known to be incredibly high with large sums of tax payers’ money thrown around public officers and other political appointees.  Well-meaning Nigerians have shown concern on this worrisome issue; which has left 70% of our national budget to funding of public offices and a little left for capital budget. Despite several discussions on this issue and the setting up of a panel led by Oransanye, the cost of governance in the country continues to increase. The Few percentages of very rich Nigerians have steadily outweighs 90% of the population which live below $2 per day. As we approach 2015 election, it is easy for us to figure out the root causes of high cost of governance. High cost of governance begins with the electioneering process; the process through which candidates emerge into public offices indicates the quantum of resources that would be stolen out from such office. This is justifiable because such candidates would seek
to recoup all that was spent and if possible acquire more than necessary to fund subsequent elections. Undoubtedly, it is obvious that addressing the high cost of governance depends fully on the platforms through which candidates emerge into office. The idealicalstructures of the two major political parties in Nigeria, namely the PDP and the APC are considerable factors that can determine if Nigeria would continue in the path of high cost of governance or not. This would be largely determined based on the amount of money the party and its candidate spend before getting into office.

Unfortunately, such ideals are lacking from the current costs of obtaining nomination form imposed by the two political parties. This has already casted doubts in the mind of the people that the reduction of the cost of governance is on the agenda of the two political parties. The outrageous amount on nomination form has attracted both debtors and donors amongst the candidates seeking political office. The implication of imposing high cost of nomination form has given birth to some of the candidates becoming debtors and large group of attention seekers becoming donors. This has become a subject of discussion in the circles of political finance.

Gen. Buhari made it known that he borrowed money from the bank to obtain the APC presidential form and  on the other hand, several interest groups donated 102 million Naira for the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party.

There are several syllogisms to this scenario: For the General to borrow money from the bank in order to obtain his nomination forms shows that the price tag placed by the All Progressive Congress is unnecessarily expensive. It also shows that the General falls under the bracket of middle class citizens aiming for a position reserved for aristocrats. Also, if  the APC who has continually branded itself as a progressive party can start-off with an un-impressionable price tag of N27million for mere nomination form, what is the rationale that they understand the concerns for the reduction of the cost in governance?

It is worthy to mention that obtaining the nomination form is the first step in political campaign expenditure; there are other forms of expenditure such as mobilization of party executives and members for primaries. If the General turns out successful in the primaries he is expected to deploy the larger chunk of resources for National campaign; where there are no donors, this may also warrant the General to approach the bank for more loans. The result of being Indebted to bank loans for the sake of campaigns does not appeal, especially when the candidate does not win the elections and even when he wins, it can easily be deduced that the loans would be repaid from the public purse.  After all, there are people who see politics as an investment. A final syllogism that can be drawn from the General’s response to the APC nomination form is that: for the General to have been a public figure and yet not buoyant enough to afford his party nomination form,
the General must have been living a modest lifestyle; hence he would make a good manager of public resources. If the electorates see it this way, then he stands a good chance of winning their votes.

For the donors, their motives in obtaining the exorbitant nomination form for the candidates needs to be properly considered.First, we need to consider the fact that most of the donors are obtaining the nomination form on behalf of the candidates who are already in power and seeking re-election. This act of solidarity with those in power can be seen as a move by the donors to create the window of opportunity of getting close to those in power. From the president to the governors of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), various interest groups have brought out money to purchase their party nomination forms on their behalf.

However, public donation to campaigns has always remained the best form of fund raising; but this is more appreciated when the donations are coming from the grassroots.  It is therefore encouraging for candidates seeking political offices to source their campaign funds from little contributions of the people they seek to lead. This was part of the success story of the President Barack Obamas campaign in 2006.

Those who donate with the aim of seeking attention from the candidate’s displays a very uncharitable gesture; moreso when it is obvious that such candidates have no real touch with the grassroots. Ironically some of the people who paraded themselves as donors to the candidates were sponsored to the party secretariat where the form was obtained. Some amongst them are made up of jobless youth and poor women who can hardly feed three times in a day but were sponsored by a top notch in the society.

There is a possibility of having real donors who are associates and beneficiaries of the politicians, who wants them to come back to office at all cost so that they can continue to benefit from the system, not minding how what they benefit affects the general public. The ideal donors are donors who have gone through the manifesto of the candidates seeking election and also believe in their ability to implement the ideas in the manifesto; as a result contributes their token to see them come to power.

As we approach 2015 elections, the citizen should be rational about who they vote for; it doesn’t pay to vote out of religious or ethnic sentiment. The campaigns based on stomach infrastructure during elections should be ignored.  The best stomach infrastructure is the one that come as a result of having a good job, living in a decent apartment, having access to good and affordable health care, and education, driving in the best of roads road etc.

Finally, be it APC or PDP, no government should be voted for or returned back to power, if they can’t tell Nigerians how they intend to provide them with the basic amenities of life. Nigerians should also note that these two political parties are not the only alternatives; they should search for credible candidates amongst the 25 registered political parties and make a good choice.

Victor Emejuiwe is Programme Officer, Good Governance from the Centre  for Social Justice, Abuja

Culled from: The Guardian Newspapers

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