The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is monitoring electioneering campaign financing, including the legitimacy of funds used to purchase political parties’ nomination forms ahead of the 2023 general elections. Chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa said that last week on Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, on Friday.
He said the commission would be working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other election-related organisations to track the sources of the money political office seekers spent on the purchase of nomination of forms. “When it comes to the issue of monitoring election funds as well as candidates’ funds, that has to do with the work of INEC in this regard,” he said. “But, of course, we are working hand in gloves with INEC and other related agencies in that field to ensure that we follow the money. We want to know the source, whether it is legitimate or illegitimate because that is what concerns us.”
The high costs of expressions of interest and nomination forms of the two largest political parties in the country – the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have sparked angry reactions from Nigerians. The presidential form for the APC costs N100 million, while the PDP’s costs N40 million. According to the EFCC boss, the commission is more concerned with ensuring that corrupt elements do not come to power in the country. The EFCC, he said, was concerned about good governance, transparency and accountability, adding, “Above all, we are concerned about ensuring that corrupt elements are not given leadership positions in this country. Certainly. That is why we are here. That is part of our mandate to investigate every movement of any fund to ensure legitimacy or otherwise.”
We applaud this action of the EFCC. Politicians, particularly the corrupt ones, use elections to launder funds stolen from the public coffer. Whereas the electoral law sets a limit to how much an individual can contribute to a candidate’s campaign budget it is silent about fees parties charge for nomination forms. Perhaps because it is a purely party matter.
However, what they have done is to constrain the political space, allowing money bags alone. For instance, an aspirant to the office of president in the APC was forced to withdraw from the race because he could raise only N83 million for the party’s nomination form.
The high costs of forms also negate the very spirit of the ‘Not too young to run’ legislation that allows the nation’s talented youth to run for the highest elective political offices in the land. Signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, the federal law reflects Nigeria’s changing demographics which indicate that 70 percent of the population is made up of people under the age of 35. The law is aimed at ushering in an era of younger political leaders. But the high costs of parties’ nomination forms do not help this cause.
There must be a way to remove this constraint. Let’s start by empowering INEC to put a limit on the prices of parties’ nomination forms.