The news sipped in like a leaking pipe in a huge hall. No one noticed because the deluge was slow in coming. When it did, shock and anger greeted it. In the times we are in, with recession just gradually leaving us and economy still struggling to find pace, to slam aspirants with such humongous fees is mind numbing. This is more so for a party that has made anti corruption a part of its life blood. How do you fight corruption while at the same time consciously encourage party members to part with huge sums of money to buy nomination forms of which only one person will be picked during the primaries.
In the new regime, the presidential nomination form is priced at N50 million plus another N5 million for expression of interest, making presidential nomination form a total of N55 million. This is up from N27 million in 2015. Even then, that figure was high. We do not understand what has necessitated this 100 percent increment except to add that this is so much arrogance on the part of those managing that party. As if the figures above are not bad enough, costs for other categories of offices are equally mindboggling.
For its governorship ticket, the party reviewed its fees from N5.5million to a whopping N22.5 million. Please how is this possible? This is more than 300 percent increment from the fees of 2015. If the party had boosted our economy by that percentage it will be understandable, instead we are grappling with inflation, loss of jobs and other poor economic indices. Continuing, senatorial ticket has been raised from N3.3 million to N8.5 million; while House of Representatives nomination fee was raised from N2.2 million to N6.5 million. House of Assembly aspirants are to pay N1.1 million to APC as against N550, 000 that they paid in 2015.
This kind of decision is the type that puts to question what our motives or objectives could be in deciding to embrace democracy. On what basis has APC the governing party hinged its decision to spike their nomination fees. It appears they are doing this to raise funds for the party and probably to cut back on numerous aspirants so that the numbers will not become unwieldy. Whatever it is, the party has failed to think up new ideas on how to raise funds for its activities on one hand or how to build new set of leaders. Instead what this over bloated fees represent is greediness, arrogance and disconnection from party members.
Where on earth is this type of burden imposed on aspirants on earth? How do you force members who want to contest election to serve the people to invest such amount of money to obtain expression of interest from? This is not part of campaign funding. The aspirant after emerging through the primary will still need to run a campaign for months. She or he will still spend money. Where the nominated candidate wins the general election, what then happens to aspirants that were not picked? They will simply go home to lick their wounds or go bankrupt. Those that win will then descend on the resources of the people to recoup his or her investment since the party has taken its share up front.
Although it appears after protestations, the figures have been slashed but it is still high. A presidential aspirant is expected to pay N40million. That is still insane. We would have thought that to a reasonable degree, nomination forms for president should not exceed N1million. House of Assembly aspirants should not pay more than N100,000. Governorship aspirants should not pay anything more than N2million, etc. this brings about inclusiveness. It is important that parties make conscious effort to ensure a level playing field.
Political office should not be left to money bags alone. Or people who are ready to wreck their families and friends just to be able to buy nomination forms. It is not healthy and should be discouraged.
The bigger parties like PDP and APGA should not toe this line. They should instead lower their fees to take advantage of the fall out that will surely occur in APC. This is how democracy works. Parties must take advantage of the misfortune of their competitors; especially where the misfortune is self inflicted.