Research carried out by

Nigeria

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

Population: 201 million
Head of Government: President Muhammadu Buhari
Ruling party/coalition: All Progressives Congress
Last election: 2019
Next election: 2023
Election covered by study: 2015
Registered voters: 84 million (2019)
Annual salary of member of legislature (excluding benefits): N9.6 million (US$25,265), (including benefits): N172 million (US$449,000)
Year of study: 2016

1
In 2015, leading political parties charged between N2.2 and 2.4 million (US$5,800-6,300) to candidates looking to obtain a nomination and expression of interest forms to run for the House of Representatives.
US$5,800-6,300
2015
2
Political godfathers are instrumental to the emergence of virtually every successful candidate in whichever state they control.
3
Party primaries and conventions are fraught with fraudulent practices that tilt the outcome in favour of pre-determined candidates.
4
Most interviewees believed candidates aspiring to be a federal MP would have to expend as much as N200 million (US$526,000) on election campaigning; five times more than the legal limit.
US$526,000
5
A study of the 2015 presidential elections indicates that huge amounts of money, far beyond total legal limits, was spent by the APC and PDP candidates on media campaigning alone (three times and eight times the legal limit respectively).
6
For a candidate, the bigger the crowds at rallies, the more the public is impressed and the more seriously his candidature is perceived. Attractive amounts are budgeted for the crowds to be rented, ranging from N3,000 to 8,000 (US$8-18) per head.
US$8-18
7
In 2015, the total traceable amount expended by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) increased to almost N9 billion: 777.4% of the N1 billion total election limit for presidential candidates. The All Progressives Congress (APC) expended almost N3 billion in the same year.
777.4%
2015

Population: 201 million
Head of Government: President Muhammadu Buhari
Ruling party/coalition: All Progressives Congress
Last election: 2019
Next election: 2023
Election covered by study: 2015
Registered voters: 84 million (2019)
Annual salary of member of legislature (excluding benefits): N9.6 million (US$25,265), (including benefits): N172 million (US$449,000)
Year of study: 2016

Key Findings

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Context

  • Nigeria is a federation with three tiers of government: the federal Governement, 36 state governments and 774 local government areas. The Senate is composed of 109 Senators; based on equal representation of three Senators from each of the 36 states and one representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The House of Representatives is made up of 360 elected members from the 360 constituencies into which the country is divided. Numbers of representatives per state is based on proportional representation of the population of each of the 36 states, including the FCT.
  • Due to high level of corruption and impunity, appointed and elected public officials have almost limitless access to public resources. By implication and historically, the ruling party has more funds to run party activities, including elections.
  • Notwithstanding, the constitutional provisions designed to foster greater unity, ethnic consciousness and identity is deeply entrenched. National concerns are viewed from ethnic perspectives and interests, resulting in suspicion of other ethnic groups and often leading to conflicts.

Drivers of the cost of politics

  • The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacks capacity, beyond the audit of political party accounts, to prosecute parties and candidates for breach of campaign finance rules.
  • Certain formal and informal cost barriers hinder the free participation of citizens in politics. Most drivers of cost of politics are illegal because the dishonest use of both private and public funds is often involved.
  • Over the years, political parties have capitalised on election periods to make money from candidates through the sales of Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms.
  • Getting the support of godfathers does not come cheap, whether in monetary terms, which have to be paid in advance, or a commitment to regular returns of percentage of certain budget-line of state resources, usually ‘security votes’.
  • Because the political fortune of a candidate is determined by the votes of party delegates, the candidates and their sponsors go all out to bribe and buy those votes during the primary process.
  • While Nigeria’s current political finance regulations are stronger than they have been, the capacity and willingness of INEC for enforcement is lacking.
  • Regardless of the input of the MPs to constituency development, in terms of the provision of infrastructure, the personal needs of his constituents, as well as those of the elders are usually required to be met. The MPs has to “settle” in order to continue to be in the good books of the constituents whose demands include but are not limited to school fees, medical bills, employment opportunities and holy pilgrimage trips.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • The high cost of politics, and potential for outbreak of violence, contributes to the low participation of women in politics.
  • The culture of impunity and recklessness on the part of political parties and candidates has encouraged the abuse of party finance provisions. In situations where offenders belong to the ruling party, prosecution has been virtually impossible.
  • Electorates are now more concerned with personal benefits than the credibility of politicians. Given these circumstances, money plays a greater role than the message or details of programmes a candidate runs their campaign with.
  • Legal provisions guiding the use of money in elections are firmer and more solid than before, though there is still room for improvement. Unlike in the past, candidates now have reporting obligations with the design of new rules making it possible for financial reports to be audited, under oath.
  • Building capacities of more vibrant CSOs can multiply the numbers of knowledgeable practitioners in party and campaign finance. The empowered CSOs can grow to become a vibrant campaign network promoting campaign finance issues and regulation enforcement.
  • A further review of political finance regulations to reflect current realities regarding existing loopholes is needed. This should also include more realistic campaign expenses limits and that obligate parties and candidates to submit bank and paper track as back-up for reports on election expenses.

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