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Cost of party nomination form is not the issue

By Luke Onyekakeyah
03 May 2022   |   2:47 am
Over the past week or so, Nigerians were jolted by the exorbitant cost of picking a party presidential nomination form for the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

[files] A flag showing Nigeria’s ruling political party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), logo is seen outside the party’s National Convention, in Abuja, Nigeria, March 26, 2022 – Nigeria’s ruling party has appointed a new chairman at a national convention meant to end infighting as it prepares to select a candidate to replace President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2023 election. Buhari, who was first elected in 2015, spent weeks negotiating with the party’s state governors and delegates to push a consensus position before the convention on Saturday. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

Over the past week or so, Nigerians were jolted by the exorbitant cost of picking a party presidential nomination form for the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

Many have expressed strong disgust and resentment over the outrageous charges. Some groups have accused the parties of insensitivity by fixing charges that can only be affordable by only the political class.

Others argue that the hefty charges made nonsense of the “Not Too Young to Run” legislation passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016, which sought to reduce the age limit for running for elective offices in Nigeria. People are asking who among the youths could afford the exorbitant cost.

The rage is understandable against the backdrop of the harsh socio-economic condition plaguing Nigerians. Millions of Nigerians are going through untold hardship with mass unemployment of youths, a perennial strike by university teachers, a high cost of living including food, and poor healthcare services, among a host of other challenges. Based on the foregoing, Nigerians are questioning the morality or justification of fixing such an exorbitant cost.

According to reports, among other things, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are charging N100 million and N40 million respectively for the presidential nomination form. The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has attacked both the APC and PDP for fixing such outrageous costs.

While all the criticisms stand on moral rectitude and underscore the corruption in the system, the question is to what extent the cost of party nomination form constitutes a problem to the masses of the people. How does the cost of party nomination affect the man on the street whose primary concern is how to find food for the day? The fees are not meant for the masses to pay.

The other day we were discussing this development, a friend and colleague of mine, Francis Onaiyekan, made mentioned a book written by Michael Parenti, entitled, Democracy for the Few, which presents a critique of class power within traditional political institutions, shows that American democracy is structured not in favour of the masses.

The foregoing is applicable to Nigeria. The democracy we are operating in Nigeria is structured against the people. That is why the political class/elite that constitute “the Few,” run the system strictly in their favour without minding or bothering about the masses. That explains why the political class has everything and enjoys everything while the people live in abject poverty.

Somehow, the misleading definition of democracy as government of the people by the people and for the people is to blame. There is no way such a definition fits into the system being operated in Nigeria, which is a Government of the elite by the elite against the people. Nigeria’s democracy is controlled not by the majority but by the few political elites. The elite decides what goes on while the masses merely watch and take the cold.

For instance, some people have argued that the presidential nomination form is too exorbitant and not affordable. But that is totally untrue. The politicians that run the parties deliberately fixed the fees knowing full well that all the contestants can conveniently afford them. And true to their conclusion, no presidential candidate has complained against it. They are collecting the forms one after the other gleefully; some lie that their support group is picking the form for them. The parties know that all the contestants are millionaires; some are billionaires. As such, a hundred thousand naira is nothing to them.

Those calculating the salary of a president vis-à-vis that of a governor or minister and comparing it with what they would earn if elected are totally wrong. Most of the contestants are former presidents, governors or ministers. These are rich people. There is nobody since 1999, when this democracy began, who has held any of these public posts that are poor. There is no president, governor or minister who depends on his salary. So bringing salary into the discussion is out of place.

While those who have held the public posts stocked funds for the post being contested for, the incumbents are controlling money from diverse sources coming into their state or ministry coffers. Monthly allocation and security votes are some of the sources of funds appropriated freely by the political leaders.

Based on the foregoing, the entire argument over the nomination fee is tantamount to a waste of time. It is diversionary. The development has taken Nigerians away from more important political issues. People spent the better part of the past week discussing the cost of the party nomination form.

There are more important issues, real issues that should occupy the attention of Nigerians with respect to the coming elections. The most critical is who should be the next president. The fact that Nigeria is at a crossroads is not in doubt. The future of the country is bleak except Nigerians rally to elect a dependable president who would not deceive them again. This is the crux of the matter.

The days are gone when Nigerians swallowed empty, deceptive campaign promises hook, line and sinker only to regret it. A close look at the checkered political history of Nigeria shows that the country has always moved from one bad administration to the worse. This trend needs to be broken because the country is at a point of no return. We must either bend or break this time around.

As it were, many contestants have declared to run for the presidential election in 2023. This is the time to critically look at each of the candidates’ track records to gain insight into what they are capable of doing. Corruption is rife in Nigeria; people should weigh the candidates and assess their corruption ratings. My people say “first fool is not fooled but the second fool is proper foolish.”

It is pertinent to ask Nigerians how many times they would be deceived before they learn their lesson. There is no doubt that politicians have deceived Nigerians many times, which is why the country is now hell on earth! Nobody should be deceived with money, which is tokenism.
It is also pertinent to ask how many Nigerians would like the present abject state of affairs to continue. Who loves suffering? Who wants to suffer? That would be for another four years and possibly eight years.

Why should a wealthy country like Nigeria be the poverty capital of the world? The answer is in leadership. We have again come to the point of determination. Shall we make the same mistake at the polls? Nigerians should “shine” their eyes and never let affliction come the second time.