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NIGERIA: With millions required for nomination forms at EVEN local govt level, Buhari’s “Not too young to run” is deceitful, insincere, hypocritical … Tola Adenle

September 22, 2018

Nigeria

NOTE:  Please be informed that ONLY the title comes from blogger’s thoughts to reflect my deep alignment with the writer but as I’d like to express my support for his submission in the clearest manner, I’ve come up with above title! 

The only thing that I’d like to add to Dr. Adebisi’s Suggestions at the end of the essay is the need for Independent Candidacy in Nigeria’s Constitution. Somebody like the interested candidate from Ọṣun State -would not need to climb the ladder of any of Nigeria, Inc.’s political party.  If he’s well-known enough in the State as someone who has always contributed at grass level to the upliftment of his/her senatorial district, he can thumb his nose at the Money Poli[tricks] of ADC, APC, PDP, SDP … and any other alphabet combinations. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME. After all, Dr. Adebisi states here that other political parties have started to copy the APC. 

And by the way, I wrote on the need for Independent Candidacy as far back as during retired General Obasanjo’s presidency in multiple entries of my then Sunday essays for The Comet on Sunday.

And also, BTW, to think I was, perhaps, the first and one of very few Nigerian with a public forum who had stuck out my neck for Buhari in 2011 – when he failed – before he became accepted in the SW in 2015  due to his antecedent AND campaign promises, including a war on corruption.

In line with Dr. Adebisi’s essay, I am wondering:

  • why Buhari, a president averse to corruption was forced (apparently) to agree to a nomination form costing N45 million?
  • what were Buhari’s feelings were when he discovered he could not afford the N45 million for the nomination form, and by inference, what he felt then about his NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN?
  • why Buhari did Buhari decide to seek “help” from someone else to help him pay this evil fee? and finally, 
  • who, of APC’s moneybags “helped” Buhari pay this democracy-destroying  cost?

I’m sure there must be millions like me who would like to know, Dear President Buhari.

This essay, titled as The New Expensive Political Nomination Process in Nigeria – Is it Constitutional and How such May Hamper Anti-Corruption Efforts of President Buhari? was submitted to a discussion group made up of Nigerian professionals in and outside the country, and was contributed by Dr. Omoniyi Y. Adebisi. The blogger obtained the writer’s permission to use this here. The addition at the end was submitted by Professor Falade, a paediatrician at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria; he’s also aware of the use of his brief but very useful submission here.

TOLA.

========

The New Expensive Political Nomination Process in Nigeria – Is it Constitutional and How such May Hamper Anti-Corruption Efforts of President Buhari?

There are a few sections in the 1999 Constitution of the FRN that promise equal opportunity and justice for all Nigerians across all walks of life.

I am not sure how the recent developments in Nigeria political process guarantee these constitutional provisions. Professor Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President, is a professor of Law as well as a holder of Nigeria’s highest honorary award for law practitioners – Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN – who is on this Listserve, and he may or may not share my opinion as expressed hereunder. I believe there are other eminent lawyers/judges on this Listserve as well.

I have also read it somewhere that Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) might have raised similar concern in the past. Late Gani Fawehinmi (SAN, SAM), a very active human and civil rights fighter who fought for social justice throughout his life, would most likely be unhappy with the current development, and would probably have protested in one of many usual ways against this if he were alive.

I am a Nigerian who belongs to the ruling APC.

In 2015, I paid N50,000 to purchase an Expression of Interest Form (EIF) to contest for the Osogbo LG’s slot in the State of Osun House of Assembly (SHoA) under the APC. I was later asked to step-down for Mr. Akintunde, the current Deputy Speaker, also an APC member who was the incumbent representing my constituency then. Mr. Akintunde is also on this Listserve.

Now comes 2019 election season, and I understand the EIF price has been increased to N100,000. I was surprised when the person who went on my behalf to pay N50,000 into the specified GTB account returned to inform me that at the party’s secretariat with the proof of payment, he could not collect the EIF but was informed to visit another bank to deposit N850,000 or another similar bank account!

CHECK!

  • N50,000.00
  • N850,000.00

Curious, he asked why such a huge amount of money should be paid before collecting just EIF for candidacy, and further explained to them that, as we did in 2015, we planned to purchase the EIF first and that we would be paying for the Nomination Form (N750,000) later after being screened. He was informed that all the fees must now be paid for at once.

He was also informed that the form(s) now must be co-signed by sixty (60) APC card carrying members. He later found out that each of these APC card carrying members that would co-sign the form stated that we must pay each of them at least N2,000 (two thousand naira) before they would co-sign the form!

CHECK!

  • 60 card-carrying members @ N2,000.00 each = N120,000.00

What I learnt gave a total running over N1 million already for nomination application process alone. I learnt that other parties are fast taking the lead from the APC by hiking their nomination fees as well. This is not good for the country and Nigerians.

Please note that this is just nomination application process for an office that is as simple as State House of Assembly (at the party’s level. The cost of campaign, along with many other expenses are not included yet. Also note that there is no guarantee that any of the aspirants that purchase these expensive forms would be victorious eventually. In 2015, we were about seven aspirants contesting for the same office. Only one candidate emerged victorious. I do not know what happened to others, but my own N50,000 was never refunded – cash or kind.

State House of Assembly membership is an elective office that should be affordable to anybody who is armed with the appropriate basic required education and age be he/she a high school leaver or a fresh university graduate who wants to serve the public as a career. We all know that NOBODY at those levels can get those kinds of funds UNLESS he/she has the parents to finance the endeavor.

It is noteworthy that Barrack Obama of the USA started his political career from CITY LEVEL which is below the County Level in the U.S. (Nigeria’s Local Government level) from where Nigeria borrowed the system. We all know that Obama had no need for huge sums as he started his climb to the presidency of the world’s most powerful country but he gave his time to organising his local community in Chicago, then ran for House of Representatives – which he lost – and later the Senate AND the presidency.

If the nomination process at the lowest level were to be the style in the USA as it is being made in Nigeria now, Obama would never have had the opportunity of becoming the first black president of the most powerful nation in the world.

With minimum wage of N18,000, how would a Nigerian graduate source over one million (N1,000,000) naira for just the nomination application process that does not come with any guarantee of being victorious? If such a candidate loses one million naira, what does he do? Can this not lead to criminal activities? Even if such a graduate wins the nomination AND later, election, will he/she not be under financial pressure to recover such money first?

In addition, that nomination process is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other ways our democracy is unnecessarily expensive. How are we going to be able to successfully combat corruption when we are making our elective offices extremely expensive?

I also learn that an illustrious citizen from my constituency was forced to abandon his senatorial aspiration because he could not afford the new cost of nomination process for senatorial seat aspirants. In a note circulated by this citizen, he lamented bitterly that he would not sell his soul because he wanted to serve his fatherland. He narrated that he became a butt of ridicule simply because he did not have over seven million naira (N7,000,000) to spend on purchasing ordinary nomination form. Why must we turn Nigeria into this state? This kind of frustration is not good for our democracy. I personally consider this as a form of discrimination against the poor – the class that constitutes the majority of Nigerians.

Ironically, President Buhari recently signed “Not Too Young to Run” bill into law. How will our youths be able to compete favorably in our democracy if we make the nomination process unaffordable to them? Please note that these youths are our future. If we do not give them opportunity to lead now, how will they learn how to be good leaders when the current generation of leaders are out of the equation?

In Nigeria, what we need urgently now are excellent, selfless and patriotic leaders who are ready to serve our motherland without self-aggrandizement of wealth. If we make the nomination process expensive and unaffordable, we are automatically screening out millions of Nigerian patriots that can assist in piloting our ship to the promised land.

My suggestions

1. This is a rare opportunity for the progressives to set the pace for true democracy. We must not lose the opportunity. Any arrangement that eliminates full participation by all citizens in a system of governance, such system is no longer democratic.

2. APC should make nomination forms affordable to anyone eligible to contest for such office as enshrined in our current constitution. The current minimum wage is N18,000. Our constitution allows anyone with an equivalent of secondary school leaving certificate to contest for any elective office in Nigeria. Minimum salary is the equivalent of what one would expect a secondary school graduate to earn if such graduate decides to work after graduation. In view of this, I suggest that the APC should peg the maximum fee for nomination application for any elective office at maximum of N18,000. This will ensure that every gainfully employed citizen in Nigeria is given equal opportunity to serve as our elective political leader as recommended by our constitution;

3. It is my opinion that affordable nomination process will open ways for competent Nigerians to come out and serve us patriotically and without expecting too much in return;

4. If the cost of getting elected is commensurate to what an employed high school certificate holder and, of course, university graduates earn, we can then reduce the monthly income of the elected officers in Nigeria to make these offices less attractive so that only people that truly want to serve come out to contest;

5. The parties can generate income from numerous ways without making the process of nomination unaffordable to common citizens. It was done successfully in the past without forcing candidates to overstretch themselves financially. It can be done again especially with the APC now controlling the federal might.

6. If the APC, as the ruling party, sets the pace in the right direction, other political parties will take the heed. The opposite is equally, but disheartening, true.

7. If we are able to achieve the foregoing, we will have moral justification to prosecute and imprison any elected officer that chooses to embezzle our money.

8. This is the time for the APC to tell the whole world that we are serious about anti-corruption agenda. Affordable political process is an important key to corruption free political class. We should not miss this opportunity. We cannot afford to.

 

============================================================================
An Abuja lawyer has taken APC and other parties, as well as the attorney general of the Federation to court pertaining to the inconsiderate, devilish and wicked nomination form fees or whatever name is given to it.

But, we can accurately guess the outcome. Nevertheless, I admire the lone voices crying in Nigeria’s political/Social wilderness, especially on this Listserve.
A.G. FALADE

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2019. 12:27 P.M. [GMT]

 

 

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