It may be noted though that ‘speculated aspirant’ and Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele, has chosen a more honourable path. He says that if and when he runs, ‘I will use my own hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership to buy my own nomination form, in an open and transparent manner in full compliance with the laws and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’ Notwithstanding his shilly-shally attitude to so serious a matter as the presidency of Nigeria, here is one point that redeems him among the motley crowd. But the point to add too is that dithering is never a virtue in leadership, not to talk of one aiming for the highest public office in the land. For the purpose of the present and the future, let it be said that Nigerians are taking note of these in respect of every aspirant.
N100 million just for nomination is, in this country, a lot of money, regardless of the current exchange rate. If, as some have calculated, a president earns N14 million a year, in a tenure of four years he receives N56 million which is just about half of the cost of an APC nomination form alone. A governor earns N7.8 million a year or N31.2 million in a four -year tenure. Pray, why would anyone make such ‘strange’ investment? Can it be for the love to serve his country? Not likely, not believable, in this clime that is so destitute of patriots. So, the motive for such investment is suspect.
The extant Constitution, so deserving of total replacement as it is, demands from public office holders as officials of government and agents of the state, great responsibility in and out of office. The details of these strict expectations in high office are clearly spelt out in the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, and the respective Oaths of Allegiance. Against this backdrop, just why anyone will pay so much to ‘serve’ Nigeria and its people is baffling. By every sensible calculation, these payments are investments that only in Nigeria can yield mindboggling returns. The ROI in politics in this country is like nowhere else well, except in similar intolerably corrupt third world countries.
With so much money being flaunted, this is the perfect time for both the Internal Revenue authorities, and the anti-corruption bodies to humbly ask where these tons of money are coming from, who earns what, from what source, and what tax is paid as and when due. This also applies to donors and fundraisers for aspirants.
Amidst the humbug- riddled charade, the contest for the exalted presidency of Nigeria is being reduced to a joke on the one hand, and on the other hand, the entire country of 200 million a bunch of jokers. First, how can anyone now honestly defend Nigeria as a poor country in need of foreign assistance – loans and grants and whatever handout? Why will any well-meaning foreign country give aid to a country of so many rich who can and should be investing in the productive sectors of their fatherland? Indeed, genuine friends of Nigeria must take an interest in who is paying what for what purpose. Second, how dare any government claim to be unable to pay the minimum wage? How dare anyone in government say there is no money to settle the perennial ASUU matter in particular, and fund the education of Nigerian children in general?
In any case, there are many other avenues to serve one’s country, not only through political office. Indeed, honest persons in the private sector and other areas of human endeavour are serving Nigeria admirably; and they are being celebrated.
There are, of course, many who are disgusted with what is going on. PDP presidential aspirant Okey Uzoho is sufficiently aggrieved to move beyond verbal complaint. He has sued his party in an FCT high court on the grounds that the high monetary requirements breach sections of the Federal Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022, disenfranchise him, and hamper his desire to run. To boot, he seeks, among other demands, N50 million as compensation for the ‘anxiety, inconvenience, and loss of valuable campaign time’. Adamu Shehu urged Nigerians to unite and save their country from the ‘strangulation of moneybags’ [for] we cannot continue to buy political offices…’ He is right.
A political party may be described as a group of committed people who share a common vision of how society should be run and therefore seek political power by legally laid down procedures to bring their idea into reality. Commitment to the set principles of the party is demonstrated by members’ financial and other contributions to grow and empower the party to achieve its objectives. But as Jide Ojo posits, the owners are not seeking to broad-base membership fees. It seems that Nigerian political class deliberately set up political parties as the property of an elite group to be used for ends not at all in line with the common good. Otherwise, one should expect that the APC that claims a membership of 41 million should be able to raise money to fund the party and compete in free and fair election. The PDP membership figure is yet to be established. It is just as well that the Independent national electoral Commission (INEC) has demanded according to law, authentic membership list of the parties.
If they ‘democratize’ the contributions, they will have to contend with uncomfortable questions on how the party is run. Besides, they will have to democratize to every paying member the benefits that accrue to the party. But this blatant violation of the principle and rules of party organization cannot continue this way. A party built on selfish interests and driven by nothing but greed is bound to implode.
It is not only disappointing but unconscionable that the APC whose presidential candidate lamented the high cost of his nomination form in 2015 can proudly monetize political office so. Even as the country sinks into the ignoble category of the wretched of the earth under the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government, there is no compunction to raise the price of public office. If there ever was a blatant admission ticket to corruption in public this must be it!
Furthermore, the party needs to be reminded that Article 3 of its manifesto promised to ‘attract the best and brightest into our politics and public offices through greater accountability, transparency, and strict enforcement of anti-corruption laws…’ If a man is only as good as his promise, this applies too to a political party. It is regrettable that the APC, by the blatant monetisation of political and public offices, effectively keeps out ‘the best and the brightest’ this country has. This party has neither lived up to its promise, nor even shown leadership in good values.
All political parties should thoroughly and objectively re-examine the values upon which they are founded. Too many of them are not what Nigerians need or want. In short, they do not deserve Nigeria; Nigeria does not deserve them either. Nigeria’s leadership no more needs cheap and obscene politics of filthy lucre but deep thinking, patriotism and focused development. Once again, Nigerians yearn earnestly for a servant-leader full of character, competence, and courage to deliver their country from what increasingly looks like a ‘democratic scam.’