Despite the N100 million the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) pegged their nomination forms to qualify aspirants for its presidential primaries, the number of aspirants jostling for the party’s presidential ticket swelled beyond imagination.
And Nigerians do not consider this an aberration that persons seeking to serve the country as president are talking head-over- toe to purchase forms, even at a very exorbitant rate. There is a very serious problem and our perceived or real lack of that knowledge has been our bane over the years. Our inability to nip issues in the bud or to ward off monsters when they have not launched their vicious attacks will continue to haunt us, and we should stop complaining when the problems snowball.
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A better interpretation to this is that political power is gradually shifting to the well to do and nobles in our society. Here, better ideas and ideologies are no longer the standards. It is who can pay his way through. Permit me to borrow some lines from Shiv Khera, “In countries where the government and political environment is honest; generally, you will find that the people are honest, law abiding and helpful. And the reverse is true too. In a corrupt environment, an honest person has a hard time. Whereas in an honest environment, a corrupt person has a tough time. In a positive environment, a marginal performer’s output goes up. In a negative environment, a good performer’s output goes down”.
You see why corruption rises to the high heavens in Nigeria unabated; we fail to check corruption from its formative stage.This reiterated my doubt about President Muhammadu Buhari’s honesty and commitment in fighting corruption in Nigeria because, it seems he doesn’t understand the whole concept and how it works. Party finances and funding are the bases of corruption in a society and should be properly guided by initiating mechanisms to check inflows from illegal and corrupt sources.
The question is how do you stake the price of a nomination form to N100million? Another is those who muzzle such huge amount, what are the sources? Are they their personal efforts or donations or from other sources? This is where to beam serious searchlight and unravel some corrupt sources. If they funds are from their personal efforts, then, those who are stealing this country dry are half known. If they are from donations, who are behind those donations? Drug barons? Contractors and fronts who are funding the political project to be rewarded from one illegal way or the other when their principal succeeds?
The implication of accepting political funding from infamous sources among others include: They seek to water ground for favours, contracts or policy change. An aspirant may accept funds from organised crime ( such as drug traffickers, terrorist groups or foreign governments). One of the motives of such donation is the possibility of payoff in the shape of licenses and government contracts. Donations may also be given for governmental policy change or legislation favourable to a specific interest group.
Like Marcin Walecki noted in the work” Political Money and Corruption: Limiting Corruption in Political Finance”; every democratic system has to regulate the flow of money into politics.
Unregulated political financing presents certain problems for modern liberal democracy. It fails to guarantee that candidates and political parties compete on equal terms. Keith Ewing did not agree less on this when he said that “Political competition under unregulated political financing would be like inviting two people to participate in the race, with one participant turning up with a bicycle, and the other with a sports car”.
The standard used in most democracies is to restrict the use of at least, some sources of private donations, either by banning them or by setting contribution limits. The restrictions aim at preventing parties and candidates from obligating themselves to private interests.
No doubt we witness contractors doing shoddy road contracts in order to recoup their investments. No wonder we see revenue sources sold off because these have been mortgaged ab initio. It seriously gives credence to the adage that “he who pays the piper dictates the tune”.
The madness goes beyond astronomical nomination form prices and extends to the point of delegates elections where the delegates will be treated with fatty rewards. Then ask yourself, are these aspirants Father Christmas, running charity outfits? We mortgage our future and we don’t realise it.
Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu, a public affairs analyst, writes from Aba, Abia State