By Udora Orizu in Abuja
To promote transparency and reduce the influence of money bags in politics, some stakeholders and non-governmental organisations, Centre for Social Justice and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung have canvassed that donations and contributions to candidates and political parties should be made taxable by law.
One of such stakeholders canvassing for this reform is the Lead Director of Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere who noted that the unchecked expenditure was as a result of the silence of the Electoral Act on tax status of campaign finances of individual candidates and political parties.
Onyekpere who addressed the press in Abuja on the ‘Reforming Campaign Finance and Use of State Administrative Resources in Nigeria’ said that Nigeria’s democracy cannot be left to the manipulative tendencies of few money bags politicians who always take undue advantage of political processes with their wealths.
According to Onyekpere, “Taxing every donation and contributions to candidates and political parties not more than N1m as allowed for individuals under the Act, would encourage popular participation in campaign finance. The act is silent on the tax status of donations and contributions to candidates and political parties. Ideally, the donations should earn tax credits as a tax deductible expenses. But this will be limited to donations not more than N1 million allowed for individuals under the Act.
“This will encourage popular participation in campaign finance and reduce the influence of money bags in politics. Thus, the mischief of the overbearing influence of money bags and godfathers will be suppressed while the remedy of involving a large part of the population in party financing will be advanced.
“The Act should have introduced the concept of “Permissible donor” to bar government contractors, contributors by proxy or in the name of another, persons who in the last five years have been convicted of offences involving fraud or dishonesty, defrauding the revenue and dealing with psychotropic substances from contributing to the coffers of political parties and candidates”.
Onyekpere urged the National Assembly to amend and clarify section 225 (3) and (4) of the constitution on the prohibition of holding assets and monies abroad by political parties or keeping any receipt from outside Nigeria to include a prohibition of foreigners from contributing to election expenses, adding that the ceiling of expenditure for candidates across board should be upwardly reviewed.