The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) released the timetable and schedule of activities for the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections, pegging the nomination forms at N22.5 million.
National Organising Secretary of the party, Mr. Emma Ibediro, said the sale of the forms for the Edo State governorship election would commence on Wednesday, May 20 and end on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
Ibediro said the ruling party fixed the Expression of Interest (EOI) at N2.5m while nomination form is pegged at N20m. The party stressed that there would be no separate charge for deputy governorship candidates, while female and physically challenged aspirants would pay 50 per cent of the prescribed fees.
Shocking as the high price of N22.5m for the EOI and purchase of nomination forms for the governorship is, this has been a worrisome trend in the country over the years. Example, in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, the two major political parties: APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), through their pricing of nomination forms for electoral candidates, gave the impression that the elections were reserved for the highest bidders.
The PDP’s EOI and nomination forms were as follows: N12m for president, N6m for governor, N3.5m for Senate, N2.5m for House of Representatives and N600,000 for House of Assembly.
But the APC, which should set the pace as the ruling party for “change” put the cost of the nomination forms much higher, as follows: N45m for president, N22m for governor, N7m for Senate, N3.85m for House of Representatives and N850,000 for House of Assembly.
With the release of the cost for the nomination forms, the fears are heightening that the ruling party is pricing the electoral offices beyond the reach of the average Nigerian whose purpose of entering politics is to serve. The new trend of maintaining the high cost of the nomination forms is part of what is entrenching the politics of godfathers and rule of the rich and financiers.
This means that recruitment into political offices is solely dependent on money or those who have access to corrupt money. With this scenario in place, those who are in politics to make change possible find that they must first get financiers or the support of moneybags before they can start.
And this limits the independence of conduct in the affairs of states for candidates when they win as they are beholden to their financiers or godfathers as a way to avoid political crises in their states.
The situation is not good for the growth of democracy as the astronomical cost of nomination forms pose a great disadvantage to women and young people who effectively have been shut out of public offices by the high cost of purchasing nomination forms and campaigns.
This shuts out the poor, the young and women from running for elective offices. What is wrong if the APC reduces the cost of these nomination forms to just about N1m. It sure would stop the seeming shutting out of a very large section of the population from public office and the obvious extorting of money by the political parties from candidates vying for public office.
If, as it is stated elsewhere, that the real reason or the high cost of the forms is to raise funds for running the parties, new mechanisms should be developed for raising funds for running their offices through the contributions of their members.
Moreover, political parties should find better ways to prune the number of aspirants and ensure popular and democratic choice of candidates. Having bags of money or to be backed by moneybags should not be a major criterion for winning elections.
Most importantly, the high cost of fees is sending the wrong message. This is time to send the right message that the political space is open to all.