The 2015 general election has been adjudged the costliest in the history of Nigeria, with a ‘core cost’ of $547 million, while political parties and their candidates spent between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy, which revealed this, also said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spent N8.74billion while all the opposition parties put together spent N2.91billion in 2015.
This comes as 75 associations have so far applied for registration as political parties, an increase from the 60 political associations as at December last year.
The chief technical adviser to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Bolade Eyinla, gave these figures in Abuja, yesterday, at the opening of a two-day learning conference on the regional cost of politics organised by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Eyinla said: “In the last general election in Benin Republic, the core cost was $15 million and then you had a candidate who, alone, spent about $32 million.
“In Nigeria, our core cost was $547 million. It is perhaps the most expensive election that we have ever seen. I have seen figures somewhere of between $1.5 billion and $2 billion and, believe me, it is true if we really knew what happened. In one scandal, we heard of $115 million.”
He also disclosed that the political scene may soon swell further as 75 groups had requested INEC to register them as political parties.
Eyinla explained that the existing laws in Nigeria do not give the electoral commission the authority to restrict the political space to fewer parties.
Expatiating on spending by political parties during the last general election, country representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Adebowale Olorunmola, noted that the cost of election in Nigeria in 2015 was higher than that of 2011.
According to him: “In 2011, all the opposition parties put together spent N2.04 billion in traceable expenditure while the then ruling PDP spent N5.01 billion. In 2015, all the opposition parties spent N2.91 billion while PDP spent N8.74 billion.”
Olorunmola explained that the above figures were traceable expenses which were spent on media advertisements and campaign materials, among others. He, however, noted that the figures did not capture money spent in underhand dealings and the use of state-owned facilities, including stadiums, for campaigns and other political activities.
In her remark, one of INEC’s national commissioners, Prof. Anthonia Simbine, decried the level of money use in politics, saying that it is the reason political leaders look only to their selfish interests rather than serve the people.
“It (money politics) is responsible for the kind of governance we have at any given time; if you make an investment, you would want to reap from that.
“We have existing limits in the legal framework but this has become somehow very unrealistic because there are no enforcement frameworks or capacity when people do what they are not supposed to do. This is more because our society is cash-based, and so the capacity of INEC is still very weak in tracking and monitoring party financing.
“A review we did in 2015 showed that there is largely no record-keeping, including keeping receipts of financial support by political parties,” she said.
On his part, regional director, Africa and Europe, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, George Kunnath, urged countries in the region to critically examine the overall cost of politics, saying it has negative implications for the independence and performance of legislators.
Revisits Constituency Delimitation, Diaspora Voting
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has constituted an eight-man Committee on the Review of Electoral Constituencies in Nigeria.
The commission also setup four other committees to assist the Commission in its quest to improve on the electoral process.
In the build up to the 2015 general election, an attempt by INEC, under Prof Attahiru Jega, to embark on constituencies delimitation failed, following protests from some leaders in the southern part of the country who faulted the distribution as biased against their region.
However, according to INEC’s bulletin, in a letter signed by the acting secretary to the Commission, Musa H. Adamu, on January 16, 2017, the Commission, set up an eight-man Committee on the Review of Polling Units and Registration Areas; a six-man Committee on Review of the Suppressed Constituencies; a seven-man Committee on the Review of GIS Laboratory; and a ten-man Committee on the Review of Diaspora or Out-of-Country Voting (OCV).
The committees, constituted with different terms of reference, are expected to submit their reports to the commission within six (6) weeks. They will however give periodic reports at intervals.
The eight member Committee on Review of Electoral Constituencies is headed by national commissioner, Amina Zakari.
Their terms of reference are to “Review the status of the Commission’s past and recent attempts at delimitation of constituencies and make recommendations on the way forward; Review and advice on INEC collaboration/MoU’s with National Population Commission, National Space Research and Development Agency, National Broadcasting Commission, Office of The Surveyor General of the Federation, National Boundary Commission, Nigerian Postal Service and any other relevant government agency; and Review existing delimitation guidelines and develop new guidelines for delimitation/delineation of the federal constituencies to meet the demand of the current state of the Nation.”
The 10-member Committee on the Review of Diaspora or Out-of-Country voting (OCV) is also led by Amina Zakari. Their terms of reference are to “Determine the legal, political and electoral frameworks that need to be taken into consideration in planning for out-of-country voting;
Examine the methodologies of, and global best practices for out-of-country voting; Suggest appropriate out-of-country voting methodology(ies) for the Commission; Estimate the population, spread and locations of Nigerians in the Diaspora and Nigerians in missions abroad, and registration requirements; Determine the logistical requirements and assess the cost implications of the methodology (ies) suggested for out-of-country voting; Suggest timelines and/ or a project plan for the implementation of out-of-country voting by the Commission; Any other relevant issue(s) that the Committee may consider germane.”
Another national commissioner, Prof Okey Ibeanu will head the Committee on the Review of Polling Units and Registration Areas, whose terms of reference are to “Consider the current status of Polling Units and Registration Areas nationwide; Propose a framework and criteria for review; and Recommend a plan of action for Commission’s approval.”