2023 election expenses: A year after, INEC, APC, PDP, 14 others mum on financial disclosure

A year after the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and about 16 political parties are yet to make public their election expenses as mandated by the Electoral Act 2022.
Political parties mum on financial disclosure of 2023 election expenses.
Political parties mum on financial disclosure of 2023 election expenses.

• Only LP, AAC complied with mandatory report of assets and liabilities
• More parties have complied but reports still under review, says INEC

A year after the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and about 16 political parties are yet to make public their election expenses as mandated by the Electoral Act 2022.
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Findings by The Guardian showed that except for the Labour Party (LP) and African Action Congress (AAC), all others violate the full disclosure clause – including the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

INEC, however, responded that more than two parties have complied with the submission of funding estimates to the umpire. But neither the compliance list nor their estimates have been made public within the six-month window as availed by the law.

It will be recalled that Section 89 (3) of the Electoral Act stated that, “Election expenses of a political party shall be submitted to the Commission in a separate audited return within six months after the election and such return shall be signed by the political party’s auditors and countersigned by the Chairman of the party and be supported by a sworn affidavit by signatories as to correctness of its contents.”

Similarly, Section 15, under Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) mandates the commission to “monitor the organisation and operation of the political parties, including their finances,” and “arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties, and publish a report on such examination and audit for public information.”

Also, Section 225 (1) of the Constitution states, “Every political party shall, at such times and in such a manner as the INEC, publish a statement of its assets and liabilities.” Subsection (2) adds, “Every political party shall submit to INEC a detailed annual statement and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets together with a similar statement of its expenditure in such form as the Commission may require.”

Since the last general elections were concluded on March 18, 2023, The Guardian checks revealed that two out of 18 political parties that participated in the last election have publicly tendered their financial reports.

Besides APC and PDP, other parties in violation of the disclosure clause are the: All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Social Democratic Party (SDP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Action Peoples Party (APP), and Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
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Other defaulting parties are Accord (A), Action Alliance (AA), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Boot Party (BP), National Rescue Movement (NRM), Young Progressive Party (YPP), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), People’s Redemption Party (PRP).

Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, had complied and made public his campaign finances within the stipulated time by the Electoral Act. Still, his party has not published the audited account of the year as required by the law.

Sowore, who made a public presentation of his campaign income and expenditure in June, last year declared that over N40 million was generated while N38 million was received as donations, and he provided N1.8 million from his funds.

He added that as of March 31, 2023, the sum of N90,101.21 was in the bank account.
Also, both the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, had presented their financial reports.

The Obi/Datti campaign organisation had in February 2024 disclosed that it received donations totalling N595.98 million from well-meaning Nigerians and N800 million from their presidential candidate.

The chairman of the Fundraising Team of the Campaign organisation, Aisha Yesufu, disclosed that “From the donations from citizens, we received N595,976,994. We also received N800 million from the candidate.

Labour Party’s Presidential candidate Peter Obi (C), flanked by wife Margaret (R) and his running mate Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed (L), greets supporters during a campaign rally at Adamasingba Stadium in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria, on November 23, 2022, before of the 2023 Nigerian presidential election. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP) (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)

“We deployed N744,500,000 to cover legal expenses. And then, in campaign and election activities, we had over N28.5 million. On the issue of legal fees, we had N800m that the candidate himself brought,” she disclosed.

However, there was a controversy about the audited report submitted by the leadership of the Labour Party. While the embattled National Treasurer of the party, Oluchi Oparah declared that N3.5 billion was raised from the sale of nomination forms and fundraising activities in the build-up to the 2023 general election, its national chairman Julius Abure, disclosed that the party received only N1.3 billion. The matter is already in court.

When contacted on the phone, the national publicity secretary of APC Felix Morka, pleaded for time to make enquiries from the finance department of the party to ascertain if the financial reports of the 2023 campaigns have been made public or not and promised to call back.

A similar response was received from the national publicity of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, who said he was out of Abuja, that he could not immediately respond to the questions but promised to call back as soon as he got information from the relevant department of the party.

APGA spokesperson, Mazi Ejimofor Opara did not respond to messages sent to his phone nor answered several calls from The Guardian.

None of them has responded as at press time.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who spoke through his spokesperson, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said: “Majority of the 18 political parties that participated in the 2023 general election have complied and submitted their Income and Expenditure Reports to INEC.”

On access and making the reports public, he said: “This is a matter for the Commission to decide in line with the provisions of the law. Once the political parties make their submissions and the Commission reviews them, they become public documents. As soon as such a decision is taken, it will be made public.”
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Investigation revealed that there are three financial reports that parties are expected by law to submit to INEC. They are the election contributions report, election expenses report and annual report.

The election contributions report contains details of monetary and other forms of contributions received by a party for an election while the election expenses report should provide the breakdown of money spent by or on behalf of a party for an election.

The election contributions report is expected to be submitted three months after the election results are announced. In comparison, the election expenses report is expected to be submitted within six months after the election.

[files] Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu
Also, an annual report of a party must detail party assets, liabilities and analysis of its sources of funds and its expenditure for a year, and it is due for submission at the end of March of the following year, whether there is an election or not.

It was also discovered that some parties and their presidential candidates have not been obeying this aspect of the law mandating them to make public their financial reports because some of them allegedly spent beyond what the law allows them to spend for the election.

According to Section 88 of the Electoral Act, “the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential election shall not exceed N5 billion”. In contrast, that of the governorship candidate is pegged at N1 billion, so also for Senatorial, but N70 million for candidates for House of Representatives.
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Fielding questions on the sanction for the defaulting parties, Oyekanmi affirmed that Section 89(4) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that any political party that contravenes this rule is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N1 million.

“In the case of failure to submit an accurate audited return, the court may impose a maximum penalty of N200,000 per day on any party for the period after the return (report) was due until it is submitted to the Commission.”

When asked to comment on whether parties are as transparent in their fiscal responsibility and accountability as parties in the United Kingdom and the United States, he said, “To a large extent, political parties comply with the rules in book-keeping and accounts, going by the documents they submit to INEC. About the income and expenditure accounts concerning elections, such reports are also accompanied by sworn court affidavits. Therefore, we expect that what they submit is authentic as there are consequences for any breach and no political party wants to be caught on the wrong side of the law.

“As for the comparison between Nigeria and other countries, we should bear in mind that every jurisdiction approaches the matter of campaign finance differently. However, there is a common denominator, which is to ensure that illicit funds are not funneled into elections to influence the ballot whether they are from domestic or foreign sources. All electoral democracies must protect the sanctity of the ballot to usher in a government of the people, by the people and for the people and not a plutocracy only for the rich,” he said.
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