The discreet investigation launched by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into the finances of the 18 political parties in the country and their presidential aspirants has received a standing ovation from some concerned citizens.
Ofonime Etokudo, a public affairs commentator says it is high time the anti-graft agencies began to transparently question public functionaries about the source of their funds.
‘’In a country where a public officer can easily take out N100 million to buy a party’s nomination form, makes mockery of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war.
‘’I am of the view that all those who bought party forms in the region of multi-million naira should be properly investigated. That is the way to demonstrate the seriousness of the anti-graft war in the country’’, Etokudo said.
On her part, Eki Nwaneri, a school administrator, said politicians in the country do not seem to be sensitive to the plight of the citizenry ‘’with the way and manner they flaunt their ill-gotten wealth’’.
According to her, ‘’some of us had expected that presidential aspirants would have protested and refused to collect the nomination form when their party put the price at N100 million.
‘’The ease with which they even scrambled for the forms at that huge amount, claiming that it was bought for them by groundnut sellers and the like go to show that there is something about public office they are not telling us.
‘’The current move of the EFCC on this offending scourge is commendable. The worry of some of us is that let them not sweep the matter under the carpet in Nigeria style.’’
The anti-graft agency’s action is however sequel to the huge fees paid for expression of interest and nomination forms by aspirants vying for various elective offices in the parties.
EFCC has, therefore, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to furnish it with the bank accounts and other financial details of the political parties, Naija News recalls.
It also asked the managing directors of Access Bank and Polaris Bank to provide the details of the 14 accounts operated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and another organisation believed to be connected to the opposition party.
While the ruling APC sold its presidential forms for N100 million, the main opposition party pegged its forms at N40 million. In addition, APC governorship aspirants paid N50 million, while persons who declared for the Senate, House of Representatives and state Houses of Assembly paid N20 million, N10 million and N2 million, respectively for their nomination and expression of interest forms.
On the other hand, PDP sold its governorship forms for N21million; Senate, N3.5million; House of Representatives, N2.5million; and state Houses of Assembly, N600,000.
While the other parties charged lesser amounts for their forms, the exorbitant nomination fees charged by the two dominant parties angered many Nigerians with Transparency International describing the development as a form of money laundering.
EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, last week hinted on a Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, that the commission would monitor campaign finances, including the legitimacy of the funds used to purchase nomination forms ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Bawa said the commission would be working with INEC and other election-related organisations to track the sources of the money spent on the purchase of nomination forms.
He noted, “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. But, of course, we are working hand in glove 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.”