The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, has rejected the N100 million fee pegged on the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms for Presidential aspirants.
On Wednesday, the APC, after its emergency National Executive Committee, NEC meeting in Abuja announce the price of nomination forms for Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and State Assembly positions at N50 million, N20 million, N10 million and N2 million respectively.
Reacting to the development in a statement on Thursday, the CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Rafsanjani, who is also chairman of Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, said it is shameful for the ruling party to peg its presidential ticket at N100m.
According to him, despite claims of a 50% reduction in the price, the new Presidential nomination fees remains clearly higher than the 2019 Presidential aspirant fee.
Mr Rafsanjani lamented that the action would exclude the youth, women and average Nigerians who have clamoured to improve opportunities to exercise their rights to declare their interests and contest in the elections.
He said: “The current total fee is N5 million higher than it was 3 years ago when inflation was significantly lower and the common man had a better spending power.
It has been well established that money politics has served the purposes of consolidating elite rule as well as the political exclusion of the less financially stable and marginalized groups.
“The 1999 Constitution by omission or commission, placed an age barrier by disqualifying persons below the ages of 40 and 30 from contesting for the offices of the President, and membership for House of Representatives and Assembly, respectively.
“The decision by the ruling party however makes a mockery of the efforts of all the stakeholders and general public that campaigned vigorously to secure the signing of the Not Too Young.
To Run bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 31, 2018. It once again re-emphasizes the lack of sincerity of purpose and political inconsistencies that have plagued this administration’s decisions/commitments to any cause or agenda.
“Needless to say, the Not Too Young To Run law has been reduced to only a facade that masks the true drivers of retrogressive politics in Nigeria, which include money politics, godfatherism and the lopsided economic disparity between the mighty old ruling class and the seemingly apathetic youths, deliberately pauperised by the same criminal political elite,” he said.
Mr Rafsanjani further lamented that electoral process is being commercialized, saying that eligibility for candidacy has strictly been reserved for the party money bags.
He said: “This is an intentional decision to automatically filter out the non-elite and leave the floor open for the same set of politicians and their beneficiaries who have bled the nation thus far. This commercial exercise will further dampen the hopes of the nation in achieving true democracy.
After all, the whole idea of democracy is the free will of the people in electing their political leaders, and where such “free will” is manipulated through financial hurdles such as this, the country is further pulled away from the attainment of the best democratic policies.
“The President needs to recuse himself from this decision as it runs contrary to any suggestion that he desires a true democracy where the people can elect their leaders irrespective of their financial status and that he meant well in signing the Electoral bill into law in the spirit of political fairness and equity.”
According to the CISLAC boss, fixing outrageous price for these tickets will only continue to institutionalise ‘God-gather-ism’ in the polity, which even in its informal form has been the bane of the Nigerian political system.
“Why the APC has now chosen to be the instrument through which godfatherism has been officially institutionalised in the electoral process is baffling, especially at a time that they are battling to redeem what little trust the public has in them, is worrisome.
“There are numerous instances in the past, of godfather-backed politicians who have had to defer to their political godfathers for matters such as appointment of commissioners, appointment into the board of statutory corporations, etc. or have essentially handed-over the functions of their offices to their political benefactors to the detriment of their mandates and electorates.
This alliance has been behind the characteristic electoral corruption and violence in Nigeria as Godfathers deploy enormous resources in a bid to corrupt electoral officials and the electorate and where these fail, violence will be deployed to bring about the desired result.
“It fuels apathy and the few electorates who turn out to vote mostly do so to benefit from the largesse at the polling units. Thus, the politician who wins through a godfather feels no obligation to the electorates and devotes the entirety of his tenure of office to the satisfaction of his godfather. It can thus be claimed that this action will fuel the synergy between godfatherism and poverty.
“Money politics is at the heart of the general crisis of democracy and governance in Nigeria, and unless this is mitigated, reforms aimed at bringing about good governance and curbing other anomalies in the political system will only be a waste of time and scarce public resources and will not produce the desired results.
Political parties should therefore be more sensitive to the rights of the public to vote who they want irrespective of his/her socio-economic class and mindful of the interpretations and outcomes of their political decisions and actions.
“Nigerians have suffered enough and posterity will judge the political class on every decision and action that they have taken intentionally to the detriment of Nigerians,” Mr Rafsanjani added.