OWithout the recent purchase of nomination and expression of interest forms by dozens of politicians aspiring to elective office on the platform of the country’s two major political parties, the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP); the knowledge of how so much of the country’s wealth fills the pockets of very few Nigerians, who constitute no more than a single-digit percentage of Nigeria’s 200 million people, would have remained hidden from the 190 million remaining poor, insecure and extremely vulnerable citizens.
Ten days after the start of the sale of forms, which began on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, by the ruling APC, the party’s bank account had been replenished with 2.5 billion naira by 25 presidential candidates who paid one hundred million naira each. More aspirants joined the race before the form sale was closed by APC on May 10, 2022 after its extension from May 6, 2022. Yet this figure did not include the nomination fee paid by the Governor, the senate, the house of representatives and the state. assembly aspirants who individually credited the party bank account with fifty million naira, twenty million naira, ten million naira and two million naira respectively.
Think of the total figure that would have been paid as nomination fees by all aspirants in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the APC platform alone. The amount will be higher if you add together all of the nomination fees paid by all aspirants from all political parties. I tried to do some calculations but had to give up when the numbers exceeded my basic arithmetic knowledge.
Nevertheless, the cost of nomination forms is not only related to the expensive nature of politics in modern Nigeria. For example, it excludes expenses to be incurred by a party’s presidential or governorship standard bearer who, throughout the campaign period, may be required to travel on charter flights. The parking fees alone, where the aspirant owns a private jet, are incredibly huge. Indeed, the money season for charter aircraft operators may seem to have begun. During my recent air travel to and from Lagos, I quickly noticed that the long fleet of planes usually seen when the plane landed on the runway at Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Ikeja had disappeared.
For aspirants who are able to clinch their respective party’s ticket to run in the general election, there are greater expenses ahead of them, including allowances for party agents in the general election. One can only imagine the enormous resources needed to be deployed by an aspirant to pay all the electoral bills, including paid advertisements on television and radio stations; outdoor display panels; posters; pamphlets; advertorials in newspapers; cars for political assistants; motorcycles for thugs; buses for some party supporters; key rings; face caps; notepads; Personalized T-shirts, handbags, wristwatches and perfumes; personalized bags of rice, sugar and salt; personalized boxes of milk, vegetable oil and honey. These are in addition to paying for celebrity speeches and occasional presentations by musicians, comedians, performers, praise singers and snake charmers at political rallies.
Considering the flamboyance of free SUV cars with which some candidates launched their declaration of candidacy for the 2023 general election, it is perhaps not an overstatement to put the total cost of election campaigns at one trillion naira. Some Nigerians conservatively believe that the funds already earmarked by candidates for the 2023 elections would be enough to fix, at least, one of the country’s critical sectors. So, is Nigeria so rich? No wonder Britain once campaigned against any World Bank offer to cancel Nigeria’s debt.
Isn’t it a mockery of governance at all levels that many citizens can neither afford three meals a day nor the cost of treating malarial fever in the same country where so much is spent by very few to acquire the power ? It is in this same country where healthy young boys scavenge fools for their “survival” that the value of one hundred million naira, as recently demonstrated by politicians, has been turned into one hundred naira. These funds come from people selected in a country where university professors have been on strike for three consecutive months over relatively cheaper demands.
I am compelled by these random thoughts to think what the proposed funds for 2023 political activities by the aspirants can provide in terms of lecture halls, hostels, science and language labs, engineering workshops , library materials and equipment, sports complexes, faculties and departments. buildings in addition to research grants, payment of revitalization funds, and acquired academic stipends. One only hopes that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) methodically tracks the events of ruinous commercialization of politics and monetization of democracy in Nigeria with a view to, sooner or later, providing Nigerians with useful analytical data.
In the latest edition of his weekly online column (View from the Gallery), my senior colleague in the media, Malam Mahmud Jega, identified the first qualification for the office of President as a current or former President, Vice President , governor, deputy governor, or minister who has or has had tremendous access to public funds. Could it be public funds stuffed into private pockets? No wonder we haven’t heard of sitting professors in Nigerian ivory towers choosing presidential nomination forms.
While the exorbitant cost of application forms was meant to exclude some candidates, the strategy only succeeded in excluding some credible but indigent candidates. While desperate politicians and bags of money were ready to choose nomination forms even if they were worth a billion naira, a PDP presidential candidate, Okey Uzoho, sued his party for the nomination fees of 40 million naira for aspirants vying for the office of the president, who he says has denied him the chance to contest.
With the exception of Pastor Tunde Bakare who dared to say that he did not borrow or beg the money with which he paid for the nomination forms, the others were afraid of the eagle eye of the EFCC . Most presidential candidates from all parties have ridiculously claimed that nomination forms have been obtained for them by their supporters. How could fans who themselves are not worth 10,000 naira contribute 100 million naira? Only Nigerians who admit that a camel can go through the eye of the needle would believe that. May Allah save Nigeria from the hands of evil politicians, amin.