Written by Eddy Odivwri (August 13, 2016)
Given the near putrid state of the Nigerian nation on all fronts, the quest for a new experience was a burning desire of many Nigerians including even those who were active members of the then ruling party—the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
That explains why the mantra of “Change” introduced by the All Progressives Congress (APC) caught up like wildfire. Even babies helped to echo the monosyllabic word: Change, whenever there is a loud hail of A-Pee-Ceee
The imperative of change could not be over-emphasised. And the unstated understanding was that with the advent of the said change, Nigeria will experience a radical transformation from all the challenges and drawbacks she has suffered, to a new order defined by a new lease of life where all the odds of the past have been thrown into the abyss.
But 15 months after, there is yet a furtive search for those things which have changed.
I was shocked when I read of the pending Ondo State gubernatorial contest, where in the APC, governorship aspirants are expected to collect the guber form with the sum of N126 million. Yes, N126milliom! For form!
If form alone will cost as much, it can only be imagined the trailer load of sacks of money that will be poured into the campaign itself. It is even more curious that the N126 million could just go with the wind after the primaries where only one of the many aspirants will emerge as candidate.
Given the ascetic disposition of Mr President who had to approach his bank to obtain facility to enable him collect the presidential form at N25 million last year, Nigerians had expected a remarkable slash in the cost of forms for the party’s aspirants, especially as Buhari had complained at the time, of the huge cost of the form. Conversely however, what Nigerians have seen is the hike in the cost of forms in the APC, far higher than that of PDP.
In the September 10 guber contest in Edo State, for instance, PDP aspirants collected their forms initially with N16 million. This was then reduced to N13million, with the form itself costing N10 million, and the Expression of Interest costing N2million while administrative charges is put at N1million.
Now the danger with such huge pre-election expenses is that whoever emerges from such a capital-intensive system, will ab initio, set out on a recovery mission, if elected. No matter how gospelled such an official maybe, the primary attention will be to pursue, catch up and overtake his expenses profile via unbridled project/contract padding. Little wonder that the criticized practice of ten per cent kick-back, in the second republic, now looks like kiddies’ joke.
The APC had appeared flaked with socialist flavour, in direct opposite of the bohemian PDP. It is thus such a smoking irony that the nomination form of the APC guber election is not only higher than the vilified PDP, but even higher than the amount used to collect the presidential form last year, in the same APC.
As I write this, the question is echoing louder and louder: so what has changed? If a guber nomination form costs N126 million, how much will the presidential nomination form cost?
The other implication of the expensive forms is that it effectively knocks out good but non-stupendously rich aspirants. That way, the contest is reserved only for money-bags, who are most likely going to rape the treasury of the state, when they are elected. The consequence is that we will have office occupiers who will make no meaningful impact in the lives of the ordinary men and women on the street. And as they say, the beat goes on.
Were it not so, if just 50 per cent of all the budgets so far executed in the last 17 years were actually deployed for the good of society, Nigeria would have been remarkably transformed.
It is noteworthy that the Jonathan administration had mooted the idea of streamlining campaign funds, in a way that it wont be this humongous. But the administration, like in many other such issues, did not have the political will to implement it, as it actually provoked wild dollar-rain before and during the 2015 general election. It is the effect of that mindless dollar-rain that we are yet to recover from today, more than 15 months after. Those in the political fray at the time, know what I am saying.
All said, the APC must make conscious effort to distinguish itself from the malaise of the past administration. Already, the harsh economic pinch on every Nigeria is querying the change mantra. But it will be far worse an interrogation if the APC begins to beat and surpass the notorious and reprobate acts and records associated with the PDP. Let the Change be visible!
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