Is the lack of state funding fueling political parties high fees on nomination forms in Nigeria?

Is the lack of state funding fueling political parties high fees on nomination forms in Nigeria?

APC top leaders holding their party flag. Photo by Business Day Nigeria

Professor PLO Lumumba once said that “one of the greatest qualifications in African politics is the size of your pocket”.  In the context of Nigeria, this is what political parties applied when fixing the costs for their nomination forms. Private funding remains the only source of raising money for political parties following the removal of state funding in 2010. After then, most parties then decided that one of the only ways of earning revenue would be by selling party flags at exorbitant costs.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) fixed the cost of nomination forms for President at Naira 100million ($240,884), Governorship at Naira 50million ($85,470), Senate at Naira 20million ($34,188), House of Representatives at Naira 10million ($17,094) and State Assembly at Naira 2million ($3,418).

In a recent webinar organized by the African Election Observers Network (AfEONet) on Nigeria’s upcoming election, Prof. Patrick Ukase, a political historian at Prince Abubaker, AUDU University in Nigeria said that he would need to save his salary for 30 years in order to qualify to pick the APC presidential nomination form under the current fee.

The leading opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) charged Naira 40million ($68,376) as the cost for Presidential nomination forms, N21million ($35,897) for Governorship, N3.5million ($5,982) for Senate, N2.5million ($4,273) for House of Representatives and N1.5million ($2,564) for State House of Assembly. 

New Nigeria People’s Party nomination forms were selling at Naira 30 million ($65,061) for Presidential, Naira 11million ($23,856) for Governorship, Naira 3million ($6,506) for Senate and Naira 1.2million ($2,602) for House of Representatives.  While Social Democratic Party nomination forms costed for Presidential at Naira 35million ($75,904), Governorship at Naira 16million ($34,699), Senate at Naira 3million ($6,506), House of Representatives at Naira 1.7million ($3,687), and State House at Naira 500,000 ($1,084).

A commentary by International IDEA explained that most of the political parties charge such nomination fees since it is one of the only guaranteed sources of revenue generation for their operations and also a due diligence measure to distinguish pretenders from contenders.  This over-dependence on revenue from the sale of nomination forms to run party affairs is not a sustainable way of growing political parties. This is because political parties will only be vehicles of those with money and those without, will be left out.

With this kind of exorbitant fees required for nomination forms, majority of Political Parties in Nigeria can best be described as profiteers and business enterprises that base their recruitment of party candidates on money and not ideological orientation and capability.

Prof. Patrick Ukase in an extended interview with Secrets Known expressed that; “Leadership and governance are not about profiteering and business but it’s about service” while bemoaning the high fees for nomination forms charged by political parties.

The current political culture being promoted by Nigerian political parties is killing inclusive participation and ideological politics, and is also breeding kleptocratic leaders and monetization of politics which endangers Nigeria’s democratic progression. This kind of monetization of politics must be a concern to all pro-democracy Nigerians who need to start questioning this practice of charging high fees for nomination forms.

Should political parties be given the monopoly to hike nomination fees at their own discretion? Or has the time come for Nigeria to come up with a regulation on a maximum amount political parties can charge as nomination fees? Or perhaps is it time for Nigeria to reintroduce state funding?

These are some of the questions that can only be answered after rigorous understanding of the state of monetization of politics in Nigeria.

In case you missed AfEONET’s webinar on Nigeria’s preparedness for the upcoming elections, click here