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Headline Nigeria Politics Special Report

Implications of high cost of nomination forms of political parties

A receipt shows payment of ₦100,000,000 by the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Oladimeji Bankole for the expression of interest form for the ruling APC ahead of the 2023 presidential election. Photo: Twitter

There is no doubt that the Presidential system of government is bogus and expensive.

This is because of many factors, including the expensive nomination forms of political parties and campaigns as well as the many elected and appointed public office-holders the system of government accommodates.

In recent time, for instance, the cost of Expression of Interest and Nomination forms of political parties have been astronomical.

A few days ago, the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) released its cost of forms in which the Presidential forms alongside expression of interest form cost a whooping N100,000,000. For office of Governor, the cost is N50,000,000, Senate, N20,000,000, House of Representatives, N10,000,000 and the State House of Assembly, N2,000,000.

On the other hand, the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), pegs it cost for Presidential forms at N40,000,000, Governor, N20,000,000, Senate, N3,500,000, House of Representatives, N2,500,000 and the state assembly, N600,000.

A retrospective comparison with the cost of the forms for the political parties shows that in 2019, the APC sold its Presidential forms for N45,000,000 and N27,000,000 four years earlier.

The PDP sold its Presidential forms for N12,000,000 and N22,000,000 in 2019 and 2015 in that order.

Given this mind-boggling cost of the forms, especially this time around, there have been reactions from Nigerians as to the rationale for such humongous amount for only nomination and expression of interest forms. The fear is the tendency for such aspirants if elected eventually to become corrupt in order to recoup the money which was spent on purchasing of forms and campaigns.

Public service for the common good of citizens will undoubtedly suffer as the preoccupation of the elected officials could be on how to recover their money with interest.

Governor of Bauchi State, Sen Bala Mohammed displays his express of interest form purchased under the platform of the main opposition party PDP. Photo: Tribune

Again, the high cost of forms is capable of shutting competent aspirants out of the race as they may lack the financial power to purchase the nomination forms.

Indeed, with such exorbitant cost for forms, political office has been indirectly rendered for sale to the highest bidders.

This high cost of governance is similarly replicated in the nation’s legislature, where a large chunk of the annual budget is channelled to service 469 members, comprising 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives.

In addition to their aides and other support staff, about a staff strength of 2,000 is captured under the National Assembly budget.

While the importance of the legislature cannot be over-emphasised, it is nonetheless worrisome that its expenditure is becoming alarming.

Many have described the amount spent in catering for the legislature alone as not good for a developing nation like Nigeria. It is difficult to justify the huge expenditure on the legislature given that members sit for business thrice a week for a few weeks and then adjourn.

It has now become clear that the nation may not be able to continue with this political jamboree while the people represented by these elected officials remain in appalling squalor.

In view of Nigeria’s dwindling resources, it may no longer be able to sustain the bicameral legislature. Instead, it would do better to opt for a unicameral one that runs on part-time basis.

Out of 193 countries around the world, 79 are bicameral and 113 are unicameral, indicating the popularity of the latter. Apart from cost reduction, another advantage of a unicameral system is more efficient lawmaking, as the legislative process is much simpler with minimal chances of legislative deadlock.

The part-time legislature is therefore an option which should be considered in addressing the problem.

The sad reality which must be accepted by all is that the nation’s dwindling resources cannot shoulder this huge responsibility in the nearest future. The time has come for all to accept the reality, which is to cut down the size and cost of governance. The starting point, it has to be said, should be from the cost of the nomination forms, which must be reasonable, if not affordable for all players.

Writing by Tersoo Zamber; Editing by Muzha Kucha and Tony Okerafor