Expensive elections in a nation where 70.8% of her people are living below one dollar per day and 92.4% on less than two dollars a day is a major source of corruption! On the condition that governance is not the only unreasonable source of income in Nigeria, many Nigerians would not have been killing themselves to access political power. As it is in Nigeria, poor people—who are willing to serve can never have an access to party tickets, let alone being given an opportunity to serve. To buy nomination forms, delegates and electorates is not what the poor can handle, it is only for the rich—who are going to recoup in the days to come.
The biggest and bloodiest grubby-field of money in Nigeria is politics. Three years ago, Nigerians thought there was a clear departure from the old order of monkeyshines, tomfoolery and bloodletting within the confines of politics, but it is now clear as water that the APC and PDP are two sides of a coin. Across the length and width of Nigeria, two days ago, it was a show of shame that the All Progressives Congress (APC) political party could not hold free and fair ward congresses. Like the APC, like the PDP. As an effect of my observation that has lasted for some decades, it is crystal clear that there is no political party (at least for now) that is capable of leading Nigeria out of the woods of backwardness.
If you do not know, kindly do know that Nigeria’s elections are among the most expensive in the world, with the cost soaring (as an eagle) from a little above 1 billion in 1999 to over 100 billion in 2015. The country’s huge cost of elections has surpassed that of the world’s largest democracy, India, with a population six times bigger than that of our own population. Also, Nigeria, with 67 million registered voters—spent 625 million dollars during the 2015 elections, translating into 9.33 dollars per voter, according to data prepared by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) in 2015! And this is happening in a very poor economy.
Three years ago, the APC and PDP made 3.8 billion naira from the sale of Election forms. The nomination and expression of interest forms were put at 5.5 million with the nomination form costing 5million, while the expression of interest cost 500,000. With this cost, the party did make 198 million from the sale of forms. In 2014, the cost for the APC nomination and expression of interest forms for its presidential ticket was 27.5 million and the governorship ticket was 5.5 million. Sitting governorship aspirants are to pay 10.5 million naira while sitting senators are to pay 5.3 million while fresh senatorial aspirants are to pay 3.3 million.
Let me single out the issue of nomination and expression of interest forms for the APC presidential and governorship tickets which are 27.5 and 5.5 million naira! These and more are happening in a nation where 92.4% of her people are living below two dollars! If the poor man is not going to either steal or borrow money from those who are going to control him in the days to come as we have been witnessing since the baby of democracy was put to bed again in 1999. Please understand me that it takes a kismet and fortune to become a president in the modern day Nigeria. After buying the party nomination and expression of interest forms, you’d still need to buy some territorial holders, party delegates and teeming electorates. And who would do all these things without wanting to recoup in the days to come? This is our major source of corruption in Nigeria.
For now, there is no president that can fight corruption in our clime, even if he spends 100 years in power! The only way to reduce corruption in Nigeria is to first make the pool of our elections very easy for the poor, unknown, and voiceless men (women) to swim in. Until our elections become very cheap and affordable for those who are very rich in values (and probably not rich in cash) to step into, rogues, heart-less and trigger-happy rich men and women—would continue to dominate both our corridors of power, streets, villages and towns. Elections in Nigeria are not about values, they are about blood-money. And because money is the one that is calling the shots in our own version of politics, our land can’t but be soaked with blood as we are having it today.
As I coast home, it is so good to mobilize our fellow-citizens to go get their PVCs, but after getting them, what happens subsequently? We need to first mobilize our people to consistently, peacefully and firmly agitate—within the confines of our constitution—for elections to become cheap for the poor man to handle without needing to either steal or borrow money from those who hate our country. Until this happens, we would continue to vote for heart-less business men and women—who are masquerading as nation builders—and corruption would continue to freely and nakedly walk the length and breadth of our promising nation!