Nigerians were flummoxed when the All Progressives Congress (APC) rose from its National Executive Committee meeting pegging the price of Expression of Interest (EoI) and Nomination Forms for the 2023 elections as follows: House of Assembly – N2,000,000 (N500k EoI). House of Reps – N10,000,000 (N1m EoI). Senate – N20,000,000 (N3m EoI). Governorship – N50,000,000 (N10m EoI). President – N100,000,000 (N30m EoI). These are non-refundable fees, the payment of which does not mean that the aspirants will automatically get the ticket!
While the nomination form was made free for women and aspirants living with disabilities, they are however requested to purchase only EoI form at the stipulated price. Also by the approval of the NEC, youth below the age of 35 are to pay 60 per cent for the nomination form and full payment for EoI form. With this seeming concession, a youth aspiring for President on the platform of the APC will still have to pay N72m for EoI and nomination forms. Even one of the presidential aspirants, Chris Ngige did not see the hike coming as he confessed on national television that he had budgeted N50m for the procurement of the forms.
It is worthy of note that President Muhammadu Buhari was in that meeting where this decision was taken. N72m for a Youth aspirant is still way more than what the forms were sold for in 2019 when Buhari sought to pursue his re-election bid. As of 2014 when the forms were priced at N27.5m, Buhari lamented the cost and claimed he had to take a bank loan to be able to procure it. It is unfortunate that the same person whose wish is now like a law in the APC would allow the stakes to be so raised.
Naija News believes that this ultra vexatious and audacious cost of expression of interest and nomination fees passes a message which must not be lost on Nigerians. The action removes Nigerians from the equation of deciding who leads them as if the prized forms of the APC is all that is needed to secure the presidency price for the aspirant. If not, how else does one explain that while its major rival, the Peoples Democratic Party sold its presidential forms for N40 million, APC more than doubled that at N100 million. Is that how expensive the incumbency factor can be?
The ruling party obviously couldn’t be bothered that the outrageous amount can make it lose credible candidates that can deliver at the polls. It also doesn’t matter to it that its government has plunged more Nigerians into poverty so much so that the country became the poverty capital of the world. We have noticed the overwhelming attention Nigerians are paying to the cost of nomination and expression of interest forms for the presidential aspirants without decrying that of the other offices. Across the board, APC hiked the cost of setting foot at the electoral gate such that there is no hope that moneybags won’t hijack the process at the sub-national level.
As it stands now, the cost of buying APC’s governorship forms outweighs the cost of buying presidential forms. Nigerians are now left to judge if the APC is better than the PDP to warrant such a humongous disparity in the cost of their forms. Naija News is worried that the ruling party is setting such a mercantile precedence in the nation’s political process. Given this guts to raise the money bar so high, who knows what the party will be charging for its expression of interest and nomination forms in subsequent elections. How can the ruling party encourage such hyperinflation in the Nigerian economy it is supposed to be managing? Ahead of its 2018 primaries, APC’s presidential forms sold for N45 million. What then warrants or justifies the inflation to N100m?
This outrageous amount can be better appreciated when taken into consideration that the four-year salaries of Nigeria’s President can’t afford it. Going by figures from the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the current annual salary of the President is N14.058 million or N1.171 million monthly. It then means that the N100 million price tag of the APC nomination and EoI forms is worth the 85-month or seven-year salary of the President. For Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has declared interest in the battle for the APC presidential ticket, his monthly earning is N1.01 million while his pay per annum amounts to N12.126 million. This means that the N100 million he must cough out for his party’s forms amounts to his salary for 99 months or eight years and three months.
This is aside the fact that there are many other resource-guzzling expenditures that come with running for office in Nigeria! How then can the Nigerian living within their legitimate means be able to fund their political aspirations? This exorbitant pricing template clearly shows that the ruling party has pooh-poohed the major raison d’etre for political parties. Parties principally exist to aggregate various interests typified by the fact that both the rich and the poor should ordinarily stand an equal chance in flying their party’s flag in an election. With this markup in the price of its forms, APC has thrown even the well-to-do under the bus, paving the way for its tickets to go to the highest bidder. We see this as a great disservice to democracy!
Aspirants on the APC platform who should have moved against this exploitation are busy using proxies to procure these forms. While at it, we insist that the sponsors must make their tax returns public so Nigerians can know how they are able to part with such an amount without batting an eyelid. It is on account of provocations like the mindless amount APC is charging for its EoI and nomination forms that Nigerians should be thankful ours is a multi-party democracy. The electorate and elective office seekers must begin to look the way of smaller political parties to stripe APC of this crass arrogance and greed. The balance such aspirants will get from the cheaper forms of these fringe parties will go a long way in offsetting campaign expenses and mobilizing voters eager to retaliate against the ruling party’s enthronement of money above inclusiveness and perhaps credibility and capacity. We uphold this as a better way of venting the righteous anger APC’s costly forms have stoked in Nigerians. The party can avert this by coming down from its high horse to charge a more reasonable price. APC should be innovative enough to seek out and adopt more progressive means of funding its activities.