How Money Poisons Our National Politics – By: Dan Agbese

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Jhe money game has begun between our politicians. APC and PDP have published the cost of their respective expression of interest and nomination forms for all elective positions. I hear howls of disappointment. These accusations are the first hurdle that all aspirants to the various elective offices must cross to be counted among the deep-pocketed contenders. With the release of the accusations by both sides, the raging crowd of wannabes will soon begin to thin out. Sorry. Na so much money dey shame dude.

Here are the details of the starting point of this political power hurdle race in 2023:

APC – presidential aspirants, N100 million; gubernatorial candidates, N50 million; senatorial aspirants, 20 million naira; House of Representatives, N10 million and State House of Assembly, N2 million.

PDP – presidential aspirants, N41 million; gubernatorial candidates, N21 million; senate, 3.5 million naira; House of Representatives, 2.5 million naira and State House of Assembly, 600,000 naira.

APC is incurring public anger because its prices are higher than those of PDP. Human rights activist Mike Ozekhome scolded the APC for “corrupting democracy”. But if democracy were a human being, it could not pass Saint-Pierre at the gates of heaven. Politics and the political system born out of democracy are the twin drivers of corruption in all democracies. APC didn’t make matters worse. He followed, as he should, the beaten path.

Politics is not really everyone’s game, even though democracy promises otherwise. Pocket depth has always been a critical factor in who goes where and who gets what in politics. The accusations made by both sides are fodder for some and out of reach for others. This is the way of politics.

The sale of these forms by political parties is a legitimate way to raise funds to operate their parties. Over the years, prices have gone from a few million to several million currently. For example, in 2014, APC, then a new party on the bloc, charged presidential candidates N27 million for expression of interest and nomination forms. Its only presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, said he borrowed money to buy the forms. In 2019, the party raised the cost to N42 million. Once again, help has come for the president of Ambassador Network. In the normal course of human progress, his current charge of N100 million for presidential candidates should be seen as monumental progress, safe from wrath.

The high cost of forms packs a dark intent. It is intended to weed out pranksters from serious aspirants. The National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu told me so. He said the party must guard against the flood of people who want to poke fun at the serious issue of political leadership and governance. “We are not closing the door to any candidate. Many are crowding the arena, but many of them will drop their ambition down to their pockets.

He said the party chose to be kinder to women, the disabled and young people. He said, “Women only pay for the expression of interest form; the nomination form is free for them. Both forms are free for people with disabilities. Young people pay 50% of the cost of each form. No other political party has stepped back in this way to encourage women, the disabled and young people to participate fully in our national politics.

APC national leader Beta Edu echoed her national president’s views in defending the high cost of the forms. She told her TV interviewer, “You find people who aren’t interested in running for office who stand up, pick up forms and just wait to put up some sort of barrier and put a peg in the whole process. As things progress. These are not the things we want to see as a party.

PDP’s fees are, of course, much lower than APC’s. PDP national chairman Senator Iyorchia Ayu chastised APC for the high cost of its forms. In a statement through his media assistant, Simon Imobo-Tsam, Ayu said, “The incompetent APC presidency has now wrecked the economy making Nigeria the poverty capital of the world. How then can poor APC aspirants buy appointments at such prohibitive costs? »

The answer is that politicians will always find a way around money problems. Both parties are guilty of the same offence; the degree of guilt is inconsequential. No one can tell a political party how it can raise funds to run its affairs. Yet the high cost of expression of interest and nomination forms raises issues worth noting in our increasingly expensive elections.

Experts have long warned that our elections are the most expensive in the world. It’s not a puzzle, really. The candidate for political office must buy his way through the party godfathers or tycoons who are the chief deciders of political fates; he has to drop something for the voters who have become wiser and know that once the thing gets their votes, it will cut on its own.

Candidates for public office borrow money to cover their election expenses. Help comes to them from benefactors who give money seemingly without conditions; and Shylock lenders who lend with high interest rates. If they take office, their first obligation is to repay the loans. In the case of state governors, state treasuries are put into operation – and their officials go months without pay; and the old retirees wait in vain for their misery — and die.

The high price of these forms reduces politics to a crude gambling game in which only those with money can participate. This causes tremendous harm to our political system and to the public’s desire to recruit leaders who are educationally, morally, mentally and emotionally equipped for leadership. It locks up those who have money but are devoid of ideas for national development and progress; it excludes those who have little money but who are full of fresh ideas of inclusive good governance and capable leadership. These are the men and women who deserve to be locked up and the bags of money locked up. This is good for our leadership recruitment process; it is what will give birth to a government of men and women with new and uplifting ideas on how to resurrect the nation from the ashes of its past disappointments and set it on the path to reclaiming its lost ground.

My view is that the high cost of these forms is detrimental to our leadership recruitment process; Expression of Interest and Nomination Form prices should be nominal; not a bank breaker. A political system should deliberately create a level playing field to give everyone a chance to compete for elected office. The constant increase in the cost of our elections portends a danger for our country. We walk through a storm with our eyes open. The throat will bear the brunt of senseless competition when violence is put into service because money cannot keep its promise. We need to take a break.

A political system in which money is the only qualification in the process of recruiting leaders is a bad system. It makes no room for a level playing field. Such a system is cursed to go quickly to the same place with the continuous retraining of men from the executive to the legislative and from the legislative to the executive. New faces are fenced; new thinking is blocked and national progress and development are stunted; we move in circles that we confuse with our progression.

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