Olusegun Ariyo

Several Civil Society Organisations have called on the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act 2022 by imposing the maximum amount political parties can sell their forms to public office aspirants.

This was just as members of the National Assembly said they were considering the proposed amendment.

The lawmakers, specifically members of the House of Representatives, said though parties should be allowed to regulate themselves, the recent imposition of N100m on presidential aspirants by the All Progressives Congress to obtain nomination and declaration of interest forms had called for concerns.

Speaking with our correspondent, Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights, and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni, stated that the cost of party forms should have been regulated before campaign expenses and donations.

“That should be the starting point. If you are saying that somebody cannot sponsor a campaign more than a specific amount, and somebody cannot spend more than an amount on an election, then it should start from the parties and nomination form is procured,” Mumuni stated.

Also, the Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanyu, said, “I agree that we should amend the Electoral Act to reflect that political parties should not charge beyond a certain amount of money.”

According to him, the N100m cost of APC’s forms for the presidential election is outrageous.

“It is like they are selling the Office of the President to the highest bidder. It is like they are telling people that politics is no longer about sacrifice; it is about money-making and business ventures. They are trying to commercialise public service which was supposed to be sacrificial,” he stated.

Similarly, the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development and Co-Convener, Centre for Liberty, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, recalled that the 8th National Assembly proposed a restriction of parties on the sale of forms in the amendments to the Electoral Act but the proposal was dropped after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), repeatedly declined assent to the bill.

Atoye said, “The 8th National Assembly listened to the yearnings of the youth and women, and included a cap on the cost of the nomination form, even though the political parties lobbied against and President Buhari declined assent on other grounds. The leadership of the 9th National Assembly should be held responsible for this escalation in the cost of nomination form because they bowed to pressure from the political parties who lack ideas on how to fund themselves; and are lazy about how to sustain their parties.

“These political parties have turned themselves into exploiters. They have made the party structure available to the greedy elite and it is the road to what we call state capture. The moment the political process is monetised to the extent that an average Nigerian cannot participate. That is total state capture, that only a greedy few will be able to manipulate the dynamics of power.”

However, Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, noted that the cost of party forms only reflects the current economic realities in the country.

Meanwhile, several lawmakers have said the proposal is worth consideration by the National Assembly.

A member of the House of Representatives, Solomon Bob, said he would love to spearhead the move to allow more people to participate in politics.

Bob, who is a member of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, partly said, “It is something worth considering, given what is happening in the APC. What has happened now is obscene and offensive. So, why not? You know that I am always lending my support to such ideals.”

Also, Nicholas Ossai, said, “That is a proposal that needs to be tested.” He, however, noted that comparative analysis should be done between Nigeria and other democracies.’’

However, another member of the House, Sergius Ogun, said he would rather call for an investigation of those sponsoring the procurement of the forms for aspirants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.

While Ben Igbakpa said parties should be given some independence, he said leaders of such parties should act like statesmen. He also stated that parties should consider the economic realities before imposing charges and levies.

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