By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
As the year 2019 approach, Nigeria is getting ready to hold another round of elections to usher in a new administration which would either see-continuity from the present ‘change’ administration, or a new wave of leadership. Whichever plays out, Nigerians are looking forward to the forth coming elections come February 16, 2019.
The campaigns are already on top gear and political parties are all jostling to be at the forefront of the campaign train; to make sure that the electorates remember their party logos and names on the day of the election. In line with this, money is changing hands in several areas, especially as the February election is less than 100 days away.
Presently, Nigeria has 91 registered political parties, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC)- a body saddled with the responsibility to serve as an independent and effective Election Management Bodies (EMB), committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to among other things; organize elections into various political offices in the country. The functions of INEC as contained in Section 15, Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and Section 2 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) include; to organise, undertake and supervise all elections;Register political parties in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and Act of the National Assembly; Monitor the organization and operation of the political parties, including their finances; conventions, congresses and party primaries. Arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties, and publish a report on such examination and audit for public information, among other functions.
Article (10) of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption- which deals on Funding of Political Parties, states that; Each State Party shall adopt legislative and other measures to: (a) Proscribe the use of funds acquired through illegal and corrupt practices to finance political parties; and (b) Incorporate the principle of transparency into funding of political parties; but the INEC Political Party Finance(PPF) manual 2005, states that existing Nigerian Laws do not regulate the campaign expenditures of the individual candidates who are contesting elections.
The main purpose of the Manual is to shed light on the financial reporting requirements of Political Parties in Nigeria, assist parties to report their financial transactions properly for the sake of transparency, supports and explains new Reporting Forms prepared by INEC. The laws require the Commission to exercise control over political campaign expenditures.
The Constitutional and other legal provisions envisage every political party to maintain proper accounts of its funds. Section 225 (2) of the Constitution specifically requires the political parties to disclose their sources of funds and their manner of expenditure, which is in line with Article 10 of the AU Convention. However, the political parties and their candidates draw campaign funds from diverse sources which may be beyond the capacity of the Commission to fully monitor. Also the Commission lacks any enabling authority to enforce strict obedience to the laws.
According to Form 3- Monetary and non-monetary contributions and donations of the Manual, it states that the identity of a person who provides donation to a Political Party shall be stated as required by law. Even, if the donor has requested that his/her Identify should not be disclosed to the public, the Political Party is obliged to inform the Commission about that request. In that case the donation and value shall be presented as an “anonymous” donation. There shall be an express indication that information about the donor would be disclosed to INEC.
“Political campaign finance has been a problem, to be specific, corrupt campaign financing, poses a threat to the globalization of the democratic enterprise”, says Reuben Abati, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, in a recent article.
Accordingly, the extant 2010 Electoral Act, as amended, puts spending limits as follows: Presidential election – N1 billion, Governorship- N200 million, Senatorial – N40 million, House of Representatives candidate – N20 million, and House of Assembly – N10 million. Section 92 (3) of this enabling law also requires every political party to submit, six months after every election, an audited revenue and expenditure report of the party, failing which penalties are stipulated. But it is pertinent to noted that this has never happened.
Investigation into the Executive Summary Reports for all political parties account for the year 2011, shows a lot of disparity between the monies the parties claimed to have generated and what it expended. Of the 23 parties listed on the report, only two had its prepared and Audited internal financial statement for the year 2011, while one fell short of the standard required for political parties.
According to the report, Action Alliance (AA),claimed to have generated income of N13,900,000 and it expended (N26,968,200.00); Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) claimed its income for the year amounted to N150,000 and it expended N44,190,575.00; African Democratic Congress(ADC)claimed its income for the year amounted to N236,500 and it expended the sum of N5,660,366; All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) claimed its income for the year amounted to N23,750,000.00 while it expended N280,102,367 and the United Democratic Party (UDP)claimed that there was no income during the period under review, but it expended N4,402,150.00 for the year 2011.
“The 2015 general election is in retrospect, a test case for Nigerian democracy. The truth is that the dominant political parties – the PDP and the APC – both violated the laws on campaign finance, before and after the fact”, says Abati. “I am not aware for example that either of the political parties complied with Section 92(3), or Section 92(6) of the Electoral Act 2010, (as amended), or that even INEC itself bothered to take up the matter. In every election since 1999, contribution and spending limits have been exceeded and the relevant laws have been observed in the breach by political parties and politicians at all levels”.
While the National Assembly of Nigeria had enacted and reviewed the Electoral Acts to guide the conduct of elections in Nigeria (notably the Acts of 2002, 2006 and 2010), there are still no stringent enforcement mechanisms to deal with cases such as the use of funds acquired through illegal and corrupt practices to finance political parties; as well as incorporating the principle of transparency into funding of political parties.
In an interview, Tunde Salman, the Convener, Good Governance team- a civil society monitoring and Advocacy platform, pointed out, that instrument like the AU convention can be used to strengthen the issues around campaign finance, the transparency of campaign finance, the regulation and level of compliance.
“Nigeria is now at the election period, we have seen what has happened in illicit money being used or state resources being used to prosecute electoral campaign. In 2015, the Sambo Dasuki saga was at the centre of abuse of state and administrative resources in the context of election”, said Salman. “Prior to that, we have seen corporate Nigerians that have purportedly mobilized resources from the corporate organization to support the election in 2003, the reelection of president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007”.
The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), revealed in 2015, that the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, paid sums totalling billions of naira to people to secure the services of Marabouts, to pray for former President Goodluck Jonathan to win the last presidential election. The $2 billion, the Centre revealed was meant for the purchase of military equipment to fight Boko Haram insurgents. However, Dasuki who has been in detention since 2015, had denied any wrong doing, stressing that his office as NSA was not used for any self-serving agenda. Dasuki’s case, though one in many, is complicated, as his arrest by President Muhammadu Buhari, was not on the ground of using public funds to finance party, but for awarding “fictitious contracts” in excess of N300 billion while he was NSA.
Meanwhile, the Political Party Finance Manual, reveals that there are problems to disclosure, such as extent and accuracy of report, temptation by political parties and individuals to report a distorted picture of their finances to appropriate official bodies due to receipt of larger donations in cash and incomplete reports may be intentional to hide financial supporters or to decrease the overall amount of money spent on election campaign.
While disclosure is an important element of fair democratic process, its significance can be reduced in the absence of effective enforcement mechanisms, there is need for impartial and timely enforcement of the existing regulations that brings at least some kind of sanctions against violators.
To fully implement the AU Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption, especially Article (10) on Political party funding, there is need to put laws in place to punish offenders and reform the campaign financing process. By doing this, corruption will be drastically reduced especially amongst political parties and Politically Exposed Persons(PEP).
“As the election approaches, political parties will start raising funds now, there should be room for greater monitoring and disclosure of where the monies are coming from”, remarked Salman.
It is not enough to ratify the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and other treaties. Nigeria must modify or pass laws that will make its ratification and accession to the treaties useful.
1) http://www.inecnigeria.org/?page_id=18 ( number of political parties).
2) http://www.inecnigeria.org/?page_id=14 (About INEC)
4)2010 Electoral Act
5) INEC Political Party Finance(PPF) manual 2005
8)Executive Summary Reports for all political parties account for the year 2011-INEC
9) https://www.icirnigeria.org/dasuki-blew-millions-to-employ-marabouts-for-jonathans-re-election/ .
10) https://www.thecable.ng/exclusive-dasuki-got-jonathans-approvals-collect-2-1bn-nnpc-9-months .