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CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE SLAMS APC’S N100M FORM DESCRIBING IT AS  SHAMEFUL AND MOCKERY OF BUHARI’S NOT-TOO-YOUNG-TO-RUN POLICY

CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE SLAMS APC’S N100M FORM DESCRIBING IT AS  SHAMEFUL AND MOCKERY OF BUHARI’S NOT-TOO-YOUNG-TO-RUN POLICY

The Civil Society Legistative Advocacy Centre CISLAC has criticized the ruling All Progressives Congress for the high cost it has placed of the purchase of its expression of interest and nomination forms.

Describing the cost of APC form as shameful, CISLAC, the  rights group, in a statement made available in Abuja, urged  all Nigerians to condemn money politics which the move is about to create.

Here is the full statement

CISLAC EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER POLITICAL NOMINATION AND EXPRESSION OF INTEREST FEES

It is shameful that the ruling party, that the President belongs to, has endorsed the expression of interest and nomination forms for its presidential ticket at N100m. This is especially at a time when many have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of youth participation in partisan politics and called for deliberate measures to create the enabling environment for wider inclusion and active participation of women and youth in politics and governance of the country.

A key question to ask is, “Who can legally afford N100 million for a Presidential ambition?” This despicable decision by the APC begs this question as it only serves within the following contexts to:

Marginalize youths, women and average citizens

Despite claims of a 50% reduction in nomination and expression of interest fees, the new Presidential nomination fees at (from N100 million to N50 million) remains clearly higher than the 2019 Presidential aspirant fee which was N45 million (N40 million for nomination form and N5 million for expression of interest form).

 

This will apparently exclude the youth, women and average Nigerians who have clamoured to improve opportunities to exercise their rights to declare their interests and contest in the elections. The current total fee is N5 million higher than it was 3 years ago when inflation was significantly lower and the common man had a better spending power.

It has been well established that money politics has served the purposes of consolidating elite rule as well as the political exclusion of the less financially stable and marginalized groups. The 1999 Constitution by omission or commission, placed an age barrier by disqualifying persons below the ages of 40 and 30 from contesting for the offices of the President, and membership for House of Representatives and Assembly, respectively.

Today’s decision by the ruling party however makes a mockery of the efforts of all the stakeholders and general public that campaigned vigorously to secure the signing of the Not Too Young To Run bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 31, 2018. It once again re-emphasizes the lack of sincerity of purpose and political inconsistencies that have plagued this administration’s decisions/commitments to any cause or agenda.

Needless to say, the Not Too Young To Run law has been reduced to only a facade that masks the true drivers of retrogressive politics in Nigeria, which include money politics, godfatherism and the lopsided economic

disparity between the mighty old ruling class and the seemingly apathetic youths, deliberately pauperised by the same criminal political elite.

It is very unfair that after securing such a long-sought after victory, an under-handed means has been used to hijack any opportunity whatsoever for a youth in today’s Nigeria to finance his political aspirations. This is especially at a time when the spending power of Nigerians (with the exception of mostly the political class) is at an epic low due to increased unemployment and growing inflation. The decision is thus very exclusivist and runs contrary to the purpose of the Not Too Young To Run Act.

Commercialize the electoral process

It is even more sickening that the electoral process has been reduced to a commercial sport of sorts as eligibility for candidacy has strictly been reserved for the party money bags. This is an intentional decision to automatically filter out the non-elite and leave the floor open for the same set of politicians and their beneficiaries who have bled the nation thus far.

This commercial exercise will further dampen the hopes of the nation in achieving true democracy. Afterall, the whole idea of democracy is the free will of the people in electing their political leaders, and where such “free will” is manipulated through financial hurdles such as this, the country is further pulled away from the attainment of the best democratic policies.

The President needs to recuse himself from this decision as it runs contrary to any suggestion that he desires a true democracy where the people can elect their leaders irrespective of their financial status and that he meant well in signing the Electoral bill into law in the spirit of political fairness and equity.

Institutionalize Godfatherism

By this move, the ruling party has officially endorsed and institutionalized godfatherism, which even in its informal form has been the bane of the Nigerian political system. Why the APC has now chosen to be the instrument through which godfatherism has been officially institutionalised in the electoral process is baffling, especially at a time that they are battling to redeem what little trust the public has in them, is worrisome.

There are numerous instances in the past, of godfather-backed politicians who have had to defer to their political godfathers for matters such as appointment of commissioners, appointment into the board of statutory corporations, etc. or have essentially handed-over the functions of their offices to their political benefactors to the detriment of their mandates and electorates.

This alliance has been behind the characteristic electoral corruption and violence in Nigeria as Godfathers deploy enormous resources in a bid to corrupt electoral officials and the electorate and where these fail, violence will be deployed to bring about the desired result. It fuels apathy and the few electorates who turn out to vote mostly do so to benefit from the largesse at the polling units.

Thus, the politician who wins through a godfather feels no obligation to the electorates and devotes the entirety of his tenure of office to the satisfaction of his godfather. It can thus be claimed that this action will fuel the synergy between godfatherism and poverty.

Money politics is at the heart of the general crisis of democracy and governance in Nigeria, and unless this is mitigated, reforms aimed at bringing about good governance and curbing other anomalies in the political system will only be a waste of time and scarce public resources and will not produce the desired results.

Political parties should therefore be more sensitive to the rights of the public to vote who they want irrespective of his/her socio-economic class and mindful of the interpretations and outcomes of their political decisions and actions.

Nigerians have suffered enough and posterity will judge the political class on every decision and action that they have taken intentionally to the detriment of Nigerians.

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