– Agboola Odunfa
COUNTING THE COST- Cost of politics to non politicians
Around 2012, a political godfather in a South Western state once boasted openly that he spent N 7 Billion to install a governor and he is ready to spend three times the amount to unseat him, and he did
The presence and use of big money in our politics drowns the integrity of our people. That is a major factor that snatches patriotism and conscience from the masses.
Political leaders wickedly, intentionally leaves the masses poor, misinformed, uneducated and submissive so they can remain bought every time.The more money you have, the more votes you have.
“Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated”- Will Rogers
“Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other” -Oscar Ameringer
In Nigeria, the 1999 constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria specified in section
225 (1-6) conditions and scrutiny of the sources of funds and expenses of political parties. Section 225 (3)(a) and (b) as well as 225 (4) forbid political parties from foreign funding of any kind. Section 226 (1-3) demands annual reports of account from political parties. By extension, the Electoral Act (2010) stipulates the ceiling of expenses by candidates and political parties for specific elective positions.
The maximum limits are pegged at: N1,000,000,000 (naira) for presidential candidates, N200,000,000 for governorship candidates, and N40,000,000 and N20,000,000 respectively for Senate and House of Representatives candidates.
Electoral act of 2010 pegged LGA chairman’s spending at N10, 000, 000 and councillors N1, 000, 000
Scenario in a 260 wards constituency and 356 delegates
LGA Chairmanship election
There’s a range of vote pricing, from minimum of N 5, 000 per delegate to like N 20,000 per delegate. That’s from N1.85m to N7.2m @ 356. delegates.
No delegate goes to the primaries and returns home with nothing. Moneybags pay up to N 50, 000; that’s N 17 Million.
After winning the primaries with the N 20 Million roughly, candidate now moves to see LGA EO (Electoral Officer) and DPO. N 2 million to each of them. That’s another N 24 Million.
Thereafter, candidate now pays N 250, 000 to 4 radio stations to play jingles and do half hour programs. That’s N 25 M
Then comes the “thugs allocation”. Candidate gives like N 500, 000 to 2 dreaded groups of thugs to be ready for eventualities. That’s N 26 Million.
Candidate does tours with the thugs & party loyalists spending about N 200, 000 each outing. Around 10 Wards that’s N 2 million. That’s N 28 M.
On election day, turnout is mostly very low. Candidate wins. Gives EO and DPO balances of N 2 million each. That’s N 32 Million.
Candidate is sworn is as LGA Chairman and uses 1st JAAC grant to recoup N 35 Million. Then uses the JAAC stipends to make profit for a year.
After 2 years, Chairman does 1 culvert in each ward, buys few transformers, delivers cheap drugs to PHCs and small furniture to LEAs.
Chairman wins a 2nd term or runs for higher office like House of Assembly, House of Reps.
The above calculations are based on normal circumstances which could double or triple in some cases, it however does not guarantee success at the polls. Someone once said in 2003 that the minimum you need to win as state governor is N 5 billion.
From the current probes and scandals that reveals heavy funds; we can actually estimate the cost of elections.
Now imagine what it will cost to get into higher offices, imagine a good candidate without such funds, imagine a candidate in the hands of godfathers that bankrolls elections, then imagine you and I in politics, imagine why we get what we get from these present crops of politicians. Imagine a political scenario with decent and disciplined voters and candidates.
It’s a simple Nigerian political logic: politicians invest heavily in elections, win and launch elephant projects that hardly get half completed at about a thousand percent inflated price to cover election costs leaving the people deprived of what they were deceived to get at electioneering campaigns. Political office holders are rumoured to sign contract of allegiance to godfathers to remit as pay comes in from Abuja, so we hear figures and never see projects or physical representation. As they are in chains to their godfathers, we remain in a cage of both parties. They fight or play, we suffer it.
Voters will sell votes because of past disappointments, political office holders will deny voters’ dividend as they have cashed upfront, godfathers will lay claim to recouping investments, this keeps the state treasury between our representatives and their godfathers, few will only give some to the masses.
A fearless and dramatic godfather in a South Western state once asked on TV how he won’t get 25% from the security vote of his godson, the governor he installed, a disagreement that showed the governor exit before end of his tenure.
Another Eastern godfather openly kidnapped a sitting governor over a similar issue.
It is an obvious case of open slavery and lack of respect for constituted authority, can we allow this to continue as we watch Nigeria deteriorate in our eyes and our time? If we can’t benefit the change, we have to prevent our coming generation from experiencing a worse scenarios.
Elections have become too lucrative because it costs too much to get elected hence the reason they amass wealth when they win. If you and I get involved purposefully, it won’t cost a thing and dividend will be delivered.
We MUST get involved today and gradually grab our glory back. As its not a rocket science, so it is not easy. Series of tutelage level must be undergone while we obtain our Voter’s card ready to vote.
Look around you and take a chance to enlighten our people about selling a vote, its a four year mortgage that signs away your rights for the whole season.
Your vote counts and you don’t have to sell it.
Your vote counts! You don’t have to waste it.
Vote and be voted for.
Agboola Odunfa, a social commentator, sent this from Lagos.
NB: The article above, in its entirety, represents the opinion of the writer. As such, the Management of the Anchor Online bears no responsibility whatsoever for the contents therein, in part or whole and is in no way encumbered by it.