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16th of October 2018

Nigeria News



Is Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act a ruse?

Ahead of the 2019 general election, some political parties like the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party recently announced the fees for their nomination forms. From the outcry of the people, the fees are outrageous and seen as a calculated attempt to sideline competent hands who may not have the financial muscle to contest the political offices.The ruling APC fixed its expression of interest and nomination forms for presidential aspirants at N45m, while the PDP too fixed a fee of N12m for its presidential aspirants. According to media reports, the APC fixed N22.5m for governorship aspirants, while the PDP settled for N6m for the governorship expression of interest and nomination forms. Again, the APC’s senatorial aspirants would pay N7m and while N3.8m is for the House of Representatives. Similarly, while the PDP Senate and House of Representatives aspirants are to pay N3.5 million and N1.5 million respectively, the state House of Assembly aspirants for the APC will cough up N2.5m, while that of the PDP is N600,000!With all honesty, how many Nigerians within the ages of 35 to 40, who have never occupied such political positions before, can afford these huge sums of money for just expression of interest and nomination forms? It is a thing of concern that money is used as a major determinant of who should lead us. Just recently, the Not-too-young-run Bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari. Can we now say that the law is a ruse? If not, why should money be used as the yardstick to disqualify potential candidates in the two major parties from expressing their interest or acquiring nomination forms to contest?There are some salient questions these political parties must provide answers for, to enable us to know the reasons behind the high cost of their nomination forms especially those of the ruling APC. Does it mean they are using nomination forms as a means of making more money or they are using the sales as a measure to determine the financial strength of an aspirant? Or a deliberate means for outright disqualification of the young aspirants? The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission or the Electoral Act to allow the political parties to determine how much their expression of interest and nomination forms are sold is leaves much to be desired.The Electoral Act 2010 in Section 90 subsections (2) to (7) stipulates the amount of money every candidate is expected to spend in an election while other sections of the law also spell out the activities and functions of the political parties regarding the elections. But the Act does not include the expenses before the primary elections, which form the foundation for every election. The Act does not take into account the expenditures surrounding the issue of expression of interest and nomination forms and all that, which is an integral part of the selection process. It appears that INEC does not care whatever means any political party uses to present a candidate for the main elections. Lest we forget, it is only the number of the aspirants who purchase the nomination forms who can contest the primary elections. That is to say without the nomination forms, no one can contest any political office. As such, they have allowed money to determine who should be selected at this elementary stage. Instead of lowering the bar at least to a certain minimum level for those who have the interest, but don’t have such huge amounts of money to provide good leadership to contest. But the Act fails, neglects, ignores or refuses to provide the guidelines for the minimum or maximum amount of money every political party should charge for their nomination forms, which is the entry point and the first disqualification stage.Besides, the Electoral Act leaves the political parties at their own discretion to determine the amount of money an aspirant should pay. This kind of autonomy creates inequality in the electoral process. Political parties do as they so wish in determining how much money to be charged, and this has given the political parties the power to determine who gets the political power or position rather than who the people actually want to be their leader. It is obvious that they who determine how much money one should pay to get access to power equally determine who gets the power at the end of the day. It is also clear that the genesis of inequality in our political system starts from here, where the rich are given undue advantage to rule over the poor even if the poor are more competent than the rich. In all, it is an attempt to sideline and silent the most qualified candidates from contesting political positions.Omale Omachi SamuelCentre for Social Justice, Abuja.

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