Nigerians need democracy not moneycracy
It is now apparent that the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) did not have enough time to fortify the department of Elections and Party Monitoring in order to effectively enforce the campaign finance provisions as prescribed under the new Electoral Act of 2022.
The new Electoral Act (2022) intended to significantly improve the arena of campaign financing. It outlines offenses in relation to financing political parties; it gives INEC powers to limit contribution to a political party, it imposes limits on election spending by political parties, and provides for mandatory disclosure of sources of campaign money. It requires political parties to open a separate account on which campaign funds are managed and also imposes a ban on anonymous campaign donations among others.
To enforce the campaign finance provisions, INEC needed to strengthen its capacity to monitor or track party funding, campaign finances and expenses, but this did not happen. It is now too late to enforce them on the February 2023 elections campaigns.
It is noted that even during the off-season elections in Osun, Ekiti, Edo and Ondo states, INEC was still not able to enforce these provisions. Well at least the expenditure limits by electoral level have been defined.
With the new Electoral Act in force, the expenditure ceiling for presidential candidates was increased to N5 billion ($ 11.11 million); Governor N1 billion ($2.22 million); and Senator N100 million ($222,240). According to Prof. Patrick Ukase, this increment has not only further monetized the electoral process, but it also has the possibility of creating room for vote buying. It also allows for candidates who are wealthy and have more money at their disposal to throw cash at voters.
The flagrant increase in campaign expenses as legalized in the 2022 Electoral prompted political parties to abysmally raise the cost for the sale of nomination forms in their respective political parties ahead of the 2023 elections. This level of monetisation of elections threatens to put Nigeria’s democracy on the back foot. Nigerians do not need moneycracy, the need democracy.