Following the procurement and submission of nomination forms by politicians seeking elective offices, Olaseni Durojaiye x-rays some disturbing trends arising from the exercise
The ritual of procuring expression of interests and nomination forms to vie for political offices among politicians in different political parties appears to be over. Preparations proper and campaigns have begun in earnest. It is therefore not out of place to look forward to what shape and dimension the campaigns would take. Nevertheless, the next couple of weeks promise interesting intrigues.
Thus, as the political gladiators activate their strategies and consolidate their return to the trenches, many in the polity are not unmindful of two disturbing trends that headlined the processes: The exorbitant prices placed on the forms by the parties, especially the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the infamous practice of procuring forms by shadowy proxy groups. The two issues stick out like a sore thumb all through the processes.
The high cost of the nomination forms raises a red flag about the nation’s brand of democracy. Before now, the trending anathema in the political space, which bordered on the nation’s monetised electoral process was vote-buying.
Just as it played out during the last presidential election, the main opposition party had more presidential aspirant and the party’s expression of interest and nomination forms cost more compared with that of the ruling party.
While the presidential expression of interest and nomination forms of the PDP cost N22 million in 2015 that of the APC went for N27.5 million. And while the APC had about five presidential aspirants from which President Buhari emerged, the PDP arguably had former President Jonathan as its only real contender; just as it is presently playing out in the APC. Thus, observers wonder whether Nigerian politicians ever learn from history.
More worrisome is that there is no effectively regulated cap or monitoring of how much is spent on electioneering as is the case in developed democracies of the western world.
Then, like a thief in the night, the practice of shadowy groups, purportedly procuring expression of interest and nomination forms for perceived popular candidates or incumbents has crept into the body polity. Indeed, the practice calls for concern lest the country ends up with another Association for Better Nigeria (ABN).
A group, National Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN) kicked off the farcical drama, when it allegedly coughed out a whopping N45 million to procure the form for President MuhammaduBuhari and against deafening criticism of the act and several plea on the president to reject the form, he accepted it last Tuesday.
The next beneficiary was the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai. At the last count, five mushroom groups offered to buy the nomination form for the governor as if in competition to outdo one another.
Questions have been raised over the groups’ motive. Outraged Nigerians continue to ponder what their intentions were even as they noted that the group was never heard of prior to now.
The explanation by the group’s deputy Chairman, Board of Trustees, ChukwuemekaNwajuba, who described it as a network of young persons, drawn from different fields of endeavour, said members drawn from the 120, 000 polling units across the country contributed money to procure the N45 million form, just didn’t cut it with many.
Rather, many political watchers interpreted the exercise as a charade and a mockery of the president’s much vaunted anti-corruption stance. It is even more worrisome that this is only playing out in the APC.
In all, it is obvious that the political parties are still given to pork-patching. The APC, consistently displaying its inability to manage its 2015 electoral success, could not agree on a uniform format for the conduct of its primaries. While some state chapters adopted the selection process christened ‘consensus’, other states adopted the indirect primary process otherwise known as delegate election, while other states still went for direct primaries.
The PDP appears to be managing its affairs better; even then, the party is yet to decide what format its presidential primaries would adopt as at the rime of going to press. Its options are however between consensus or actual primaries. While its Board of Trustees favoured the former, its governors’ forum favoured the latter.
The shenanigan and scheming going on within the two leading political parties had shown that the country’s political leaders have failed to evolve developmentally since the advent of the fourth Republic.
The inability of the political parties to adopt and stick to a defined form of primary election is indicative of their half-hearted commitment to democracy and by extension the commitment to the country’s development. Definitely, goings on in the parties is a wakeup call on the voting public.
Analysts hold the view that time presents Nigerians with a window of opportunity to seize the initiative from the parties. They maintained that the time require Nigerians to de-emphasise political party affiliations and place more emphasis on individual candidate’s credibility, capacity and track record of commitment to delivering real dividends of democracy.
After all, a majority of the politicians have not demonstrated a convincing commitment to any definable political ideology.
TABLE FOR ELECTIONS CALENDAR
• Last day for purchase of forms for NASS, Guber and Presidential
Forms : Monday 17 September 2018
• Closure of Submission: Tuesday 18 September 2018
• Screening of NASS Aspirant: Thursday, September 20
• Gubernatorial candidates: Saturday, 22, September 2018-09-15
• Presidential: Monday, 24 September 2019
• Publication of Delegates Lists: Monday September 24
• Governorship Primaries (State Congress): Friday September 28, 2018.
• Appeals on Guber Primaries: Sunday September 30 2018
• House of Representatives Congresses (Candidates Nomination): Sunday,
September 30, 2018
• Appeals of House of Representatives Congresses: Tuesday October 2 2018
• Senatorial District Congresses (Candidate Nomination): Monday, October 1 2018
• Appeals on Senatorial District Congresses: Wednesday, October 3 2018
• State House of Assembly Primaries (CANDIDATE Nomination) :Tuesday October 2
• Appeals for State House of Assembly Primaries: Thursday October 4 2018
• Presidential Primary Election (National Convention) Friday 5 – Saturday 6
• Sale of Forms for all aspirants: Wednesday September 5th – Monday 10 2018
• Nationwide Congress to elect all delegates: Wednesday September 12 2018
• Appeals arising from Congresses: Thursday September 13 2018-09-16
• Screening of Aspirants that purchased forms: Saturday September 15
• Appeals arising from screening of all candidates: Wednesday
September –Thursday September 20 2018
• Presidential Primary to elect Presidential candidate: Thursday
September 20 2018-09-16 7
• Appeals arising from conduct of Presidential Primary election:
Saturday September 22 2019
• Governorship Primaries to elect governorship candidates: Tuesday
September 25 2018
• Appeals arising from conduct of governorship primaries: Wednesday
September 26 2018-09-16
• Legislative primaries to elect Senatorial Candidates: Thursday
September 27 2018
House of Representatives: Friday September 28 2018
• Appeals arising from all legislative primaries: Saturday September 29 2018
• House of Assembly and FCT Area Council primaries: Tuesday October 2 2018
• Appeals arising from State House of Assembly Primaries: Wednesday
• National Convention to ratify Presidential Candidate: Saturday
October 6 2018