100 Million Naira Expression of Interest/Nomination Form, Commercialization of the Political System and Zero Hope for The Common Man

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“I felt heavily sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and ask somebody to pay for my nomination forms, because I always try to pay myself, at least for the nomination. N27 million is a big sum.” – PMB in 2014 while picking the APC nomination form

Nigerians woke up to the shocking news of the new excessive price tag placed on the Expression of Interest/Nomination forms for the Presidential ticket, the Governorship ticket, the Senatorial ticket, the House of Representative ticket, and the State houses of Assembly tickets for the All Progressive Congress (APC). The new price regime now stands at 100 Million Naira for the Presidency (30 Million Naira for the Expression of Interest form and 70 Million Naira for the Nomination Form), 50 Million Naira for Governorship (10 Million Naira for the Expression of Interest form and 40 Million Naira for Nomination Form), 20 Million Naira for the Senate (3 Million Naira for Expression of Interest form and 17 Million Naira for Nomination Form), 10 Million Naira for House of Representatives (1 Million Naira for Expression of Interest form and 9 Million Naira for Nomination Form) and 2 Million for the State Houses of Assembly (500 Thousand Naira for Expression of Interest form and 1.5 Million Naira for Nomination Form). The party also made provision for female aspirants and Persons with disability aspirants to purchase the interest form, while nomination forms are free for all the positions. The party also provided for youths who are 35 years and below to purchase an Expression of interest form with a 40% discount on the Nomination Form fees for each position.

The release of this new price regime drew my attention to the above statement made by President Buhari when he was to purchase a nomination form back in 2014 while contesting for the office of the President. The President had expressed discontent at the fact that he had to cough out a whopping 27.5 Million Naira to purchase the Nomination form for the Presidential election. He had told the press that he had tried to get the party’s leadership to reduce the amount but the National Chairman at the time, John Odigie-Oyegun, said to him, “you better pick your form and keep a straight face; that means there is no excuse”. It is now surprising and appalling, how the same party under the leadership of President Buhari, has considered and approved this magnitude of increment in the sale of forms to interested parties. I had thought that the inflation hitting Nigeria at the moment will not affect the prices of commodities that are within the explicit control of the ruling party (Government). Alas, I am so wrong. The same nomination/interest form that sold for a whopping 27.5 Million Naira in 2014, now sells for a mammoth 100 Million Naira in 2022. This is at an inflation rate of 263.33% (hmmm…e shock me o).

As I pondered through the decision of the ruling party, being led by the President, several questions bugged my mind:

  1. How many Nigerians (who are interested in politics), can cough out N100 Million for the Presidency form or N50 Million Naira for the Governorship form,with their hard-earned money and not ill-gotten wealth, for the purchase of an uncertain ticket?
  2. Some pundits say friends and well-wishers come together to raise funds for the purchase of forms for interested parties. Is this support system a statutory method of raising funds to purchase forms now recognised and justiciable?
  3. Will well-wishers donate their money and not expect to get returns (with interest) one way or the other once their candidate is in power?
  4. Does the refunds of donated funds not come from government coffers when their candidates are in office?
  5. How would a person who had coughed out 100 Million or N50 Million just give up his funds for a nomination form for a ticket he is not 100% certain to get?
  6. How many persons within the political circle in Nigeria LEGITIMATELY earn as much as 100 Million in 4 years or even 50 Million such as to throw around for Expression of interest and Nomination form?
  7. Is the inflation that has been and is still rocking the Nigerian economy in the past few years a justification for the sale of the nomination form and expression of interest form at such exorbitant amounts?
  8. While explaining why the nomination form was that exorbitant, National Chairman at the time, John Odigie-Oyegun said it was intended “to separate the men from the boys”. If I may ask, at 100 Million Naira and N50 Million purchase price, who are they separating? The men from the gods?
  9. Is this not the best approach by the Ruling party to remove the best and capable hands from politics and sustain themselves alone in power?
  10. Where will intellectual minds or persons with capable fists and intellectual prowess but not financially buoyant, raise these kinds of exorbitant price tags for forms that would not guarantee a ticket or a seat?
  11. I must confess that the new price regime by the ruling party ranging from the Presidency form, down to the State Houses of Assembly is very unfair, bias, immoral, depraved, scandalous and done without caution and conscience. It is an attempt to turn our democracy into a Plutocracy (that is, a government controlled exclusively by the wealthy, either directly or indirectly). The effect of this exorbitant price tags is that anyone who purchases the form, whether by himself or by the assistance of friends and well-wishers, will do all it takes, whether by the hook or by the crook, to win the ticket so as not to waste investments. This kind of commercialized regime would encourage nothing but desperation from candidates and would ultimately lead to deeper corrupt practices in the system.

    The part that attempted to subsidize the price tags for female aspirants and persons leaving with disabilities, as well as persons below the age of 35 years, is to me even more unreasonable because the amount for persons below the age of 35 is just a difference of 38% of the principal sum. How many female aspirants or persons leaving with disability will cough out 30 Million Naira which is the so called subsidized rate to purchase a form for an uncertain ticket? How many persons leaving with disability can even raise 500 thousand Naira to purchase the form for the ticket of a State House of Assembly they are not certain to get?

    You still wonder why a government that had initially promised to raise Nigerians out of poverty will today, in a country where prices are skyrocketing and the poverty rate is on the increase, creates a form of system where only the high and mighty can rule. As this government rounds up its 8 years in power, I must confess that many of our expectations (if not all), were not satisfied. We had too many hopes dashed and the commercialization of the electoral process has further deepened the wounds. Our government owned Universities are at the verge of total collapse and security situation is at its worse, yet no one is saying anything. The only interest at hand is the exchange of power at various levels come 2023.

    My conclusion on this issue is that “Power is for the powerful and the powerful are doing everything to retain the power within their circle”. Interestingly, the powerful ones are already picking the forms and keeping a straight face as advised by their former party chairman. This is a government of the Rich/Reach, by the Rich/Reach and for the Rich/Reach

    I hope we can get it right as a country.

    Akintayo Balogun Esq., LL.B (Hons), BL, LL.M, is a legal practitioner in private practice and based in Abuja, FCT. A prolific writer, public affairs analyst and commentator on national issues.

    akinson6@gmail.com.

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