IPAC Raises Alarm on 2019 Polls
Decry Money Politics
National Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Chief Peter Ameh has said that the resort to money politics was threatening free and fair elections in the country as it rob ordinary Nigerians the opportunity to participate in the democratic process in the country.
Ameh spoke just as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it was modifying its modalities for tracking campaign finances, saying individual candidates should also be encouraged to report their campaign finances to the commission.
Chief Ameh who spoke at the opening of a two day capacity building for political party leaders organised by the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) said unless money politics is completely discouraged, the nation’s multi party see democracy may be under serious threat.
He said “Money politics has been a major issue and INEC has been on that. We must commend for coming up with forms. We need a free and fair election and with money politics play a critical role against achieving that. Politics is threatened if we have have a free and fair election.
“We have had a lot of discussion on that and eye discovered that INEC is very concerned. It is very important that we reduce the extent of money politics in out political culture. We must be able to have a law that states how much a candidate should spend on election. We must be able to check their adverts, rallies and television campaign and how much these things cost. Our elections must not be the way it is.
“Ordinary Nigerian should be able to participate because that is the essence of multi-party democracy. If you are popular with your people, you should be able to go to any party and contest. What we have now is that people just feel that they context and do anything including paying as much as N50 million for form. When you spend so much to organize convention and campaigns, where is the position of the ordinary person.
“Democracy is supposed to be for the people, but when it exclude the people, then it is no longer democracy. So, at our level of IPAC, our agenda is to ensure that Nigerian must be allowed to work. We know that money play a critical role in politics, but our case is different because it come with thuggery. We must condemn money politics and we must be able to work together and see how we can streamline what comes out of it.”
Director of Election and Monitoring unit of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Alhaji Aminu Idris said the major challenge facing the commission was monitoring campaign finances of individual candidates, stressing that while the law provide for the tracking of party campaign finances, individual candidates should be encouraged to report their campaign financing to the commission.
He said the Commission has carried out a lot of training both for its staff and political parties on how to track campaign funding and expenditure.
He said “We have done a lot of training for our staff on how to track campaign financing of candidates and political parties. We have also collaborate with donor partner to training political parties on how to report because the requirements of the lawn is for political parties to report their campaign expenses six months after their election and also report their income and the source of the income three months after the election.
“What the commission has tried to do is train political parties on how to make these reports and we have designed forms which we will distribute to political parties and their candidates so that at the end of the election, they will report their income and expenses.
“The commission is also tracking the visible campaign expenses of candidates, including billboards, adverts in the media and campaign rallies. At the end of the day, the objective of the reporting is not to see who is breaking the law, but to see the actual cost of running for the office of the governor in different parts of the country. Once we see that, it might be the basis for advocating for the change in the campaign funding limit.
“The only way we know about third party financing is by reporting and that is the challenge because you cannot measure what has not been reported. We cannot base our tracking on rumours because that will not give you what is required. So, we need to encourage parties and their candidates to report the sources of their campaign funds. Even though it is only parties that are required to report on their campaign finances, candidates should be encouraged to do so.”
Also speaking, the Chief Operating Officer of the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre, Prof. Habu Galadima said the aim of the training was to sensitive the parties about the policy and legal framework and regulations governing campaign financing.
He said “the purpose of our gathering here is sensitive the political parties, especially their Organizing Secretaries to understand the redesigned INEC standardized finance tracking form and understand the template better so as to be able to track campaign funds of their parties so that at the end of the day, they will not be in breach of the law concerning campaign financing. The issue of campaign finance can make or Mar the entire process and so, this is key to us.