General Election 2023
At every stage, it is all about money and the contestant bears the cost 100%. In essence, a member of the APC who spent fifty million to buy governorship forms and huge sums to lobby for party ticket; if he fails to secure it, he has lost all his money. But if he wins, he will need a few billions to prosecute his campaign and election. In perspective, we can agree that a system that is fashioned to be so brazenly money-driven, one carefully designed as a zero-sum affair, even with no level playing ground; for such a system, it will be difficult for actors to play decently.
… No man will go home in peace, after spending one hundred million Naira to buy presidential forms, and hundreds of millions on a national campaign for ticket, when he is schemed out and denied a fair process.
Politics all over the world is an expensive venture. In Nigeria, it is no different except that every aspect of our politics is excessively monetized to the point that anyone who does not have enough money to oil these processes is traditionally regarded as unserious. Now that most political parties have fixed a price tag on their nomination and expression of interest forms, one thing is constant; dominant political parties have their forms pegged at ridiculously high amounts.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance –APGA, the All Progressives Congress –APC, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party –PDP; APGA’s presidential forms were sold at twenty-five million Naira and that is the least, among the big three. PDP sells theirs for forty million Naira, while APC sells theirs for one hundred million Naira. For governorship forms, APGA sold at fifteen million, PDP at twenty-one million, and APC at fifty million. Outrageous is definitely not sufficient to quantify these amounts, just for forms in political parties where those expected to make these payments have been members and have been committed to the party. Worst still, in parties where it is expected that government officials elected from these parties will champion the good of the common man and work for the progress and development of the state. The cost of these forms; a deliberate attempt to maintain the status quo, yet, is not the major money guzzler for a serious contestant in Nigeria’s context.
To understand how Nigerian politics works, one has to fairly appreciate the cost of the exercise called ‘consultation’ before the primary election, which public office seekers engage in. To buttress, an APGA contestant running for House of Assembly in Imo state, for instance, must pay the full amount for his forms. Apart from the cost of his forms, he, keeping with the traditions of political outreaches, must consult and lobby for the support of party people with costly drinks and fat envelop in some cases. The cost of this political exercise is usually in millions depending on the political reality within a particular constituency. By implication, the higher office one contests, the more money is needed for political consultation. With this arrangement naturally, the depth of one’s pocket sets his political aspiration or in fact, is a major factor in guiding his political aspiration.
In reality, the money spent on forms and those spent traversing one’s constituency and reaching out to ensure successful nomination is all a gamble. Contestants who spend money on forms, spend money reaching out, begging party men and women for support to become candidates, may not get the nomination and in consequence, they also lose all the money spent. But if they get the nomination, they get prepared to spend more money and engage in a bigger gamble because; participating in the General Election is not a guarantee of winning.
At every stage, it is all about money and the contestant bears the cost 100%. In essence, a member of the APC who spent fifty million to buy governorship forms and huge sums to lobby for a party ticket, if he fails to secure it, he has lost all his money. But if he wins, he will need a few billion to prosecute his campaign. In perspective, we can agree that a system that is fashioned to be so brazenly money-driven, one carefully designed as a zero-sum affair, even with no level playing ground; for such a system, it will be difficult for actors to play decently.
High monetization has already cut off many people who desire to serve and have what it takes to. Worst still, those who managed to meet the tall financial requirements are conditioned to be desperate and borderline unreasonable with their aspiration, such that the polity is always charged during elections, even as it is now. And sometimes, this triggers violence. No man will go home in peace after spending one hundred million Naira to buy presidential forms, and hundreds of millions on a national campaign for a ticket, when he is schemed out and denied a fair process.
The 2023 General Election very clearly will take the traditional order in which credibility, and electability, will well be greased by how much money one has to brighten his chances of getting elected, except in a handful of places.