The Governor Akwa Ibom state, Udom Emmanuel, has revealed that the money used by the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu to launch himself into politics in 1999, came from his desk. At the time, Governor Udom was the chief finance officer at Zenith Bank.
This revelation was made after Bola Tinubu criticized the Governor for supporting the presidential bid for his rival, Atiku Abubakar. “He lived in my backyard in Lagos”, candidate Tinubu further revealed while referring to the Akwa Ibom Governor.
He however did not tell how much it was and who the campaign donor was. With the Nigeria general elections 2023 now into the last mile, there are growing questions about the sources of campaign funds being used by the three-front running presidential candidates namely; Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi.
It remains to be seen whether the political parties contesting in this election shall in line with section 90(4) of the Electoral Act 2022, file within three months a report detailing the campaign finance contributions made by individuals and entities.
What is known is that Tinubu and Atiku are very wealthy candidates with big fortunes and are believed to have already surpassed the spending prescribed in the new Electoral Act.
With a plethora of properties and shares in multiple companies, Bola Tinubu is believed to be one of the richest politicians in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $32.7 billion. Conversely, his main rival in the presidential race, Atiku Abubakar is believed to have a net worth of over $1.8 billion. Both men reportedly own chains of businesses in and outside of Nigeria.
In other words, elective politics in Nigeria is a preserve for the super-rich, a situation that promotes exclusion of even better leaders who cannot amass a sizeable war chest to pay for party nomination and be able to contest for the presidency. Commercialisation and monetisation of politics is a monster that Nigerians and other stakeholders must fight, and the time to do so is now.
By passing the new electoral law with progressive political finance provisions, the Nigerian law makers and the President have done their part. What remains now is for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enforce it on one hand while civil society, media, academia and other stakeholders bring pressure to bear on law enforcers and political parties to comply. Nigerian civil society organizations and the academia, must pay more attention to the subject of money in politics in Nigeria.
Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) – a Pan-African political finance watchdog, believes strongly that Nigeria’s new electoral law is good enough to “cage the monster” of commercialised politics. The issue is enforcement.
Nigeria’s central bank assures INEC
The Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank (NCB) has assured the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the cash withdraw limits notwithstanding, the central bank will make everything possible to make funds available for the electoral management body to conduct successful elections. INEC needs cash to facilitate polling officials. “The central bank does not want to be misconstrued as the institution that frustrated the conduct of elections”, said the Governor.