…Says PDP spends N8,749,685,296.00
…APC spends N2, 915,846,737.00.
Chris Steven, Abuja
Despite the provision of the nation’s Electoral Act that pegs budget for presidential election campaign at N1billion for political parties, the nation’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been indicted for over shooting the N1billion ceiling for Presidential election campaign expenditure as stipulated by the Electoral Act.
The two parties, according to a report released on Tuesday by a civil Society group, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), alone cumulatively spent as much as N11, 665,532,033,00 billion for the just concluded 2015 presidential election.
These were part of the findings of the report which was borne out of the investigation and monitoring of campaign finance and use of state administrative resources in the 2015 presidential elections, conducted carried out by CSJ with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UKAID.
According to the report, PDP spent about N8,749,685,296.00 billion while APC’s expended about N2,915,846,737,00 billion for the just concluded presidential election. Figures which over shoot the N1billion ceiling for candidates in Presidential election as stipulated by the electoral law.
Presenting the report in Abuja, the Lead Director of CSJ Barrister Eze Onyekpere categorically stated that money and administrative resources played an enhanced role in the 2015 presidential election adding that State governments of the two leading political parties in Nigeria (APC and PDP) dipped hands in their state treasury to finance the campaign activities of their various political parties.
Onyekpere noted that: “the expenditure ceiling of one billion naira was largely ignored by the candidates whilst the administrative resources and public financial resources were deployed by the two major contenders and their parties. The link between the run down finances of states and FG, the inability to pay workers salaries at the state level and the 2015 elections was very clear.”
The report frowned at the activities of some campaign organizations like Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria(TAN) in the build of the 2015 presidential elections, adding that TAN broke the rules, as well as the suspicious nature of its source of finance and treasury, which “seemed to have access to a bottomless pit of money.”
“The relationship between the donations and extant or future economic policies needs to be interrogated. Were the donors the beneficiaries of inflated contracts, undue import duty waivers, etc? Were the donors expecting these kind of benefits in the future?” the report queried.
“Further, the role played by TAN in the campaigns was unprecedented in terms of the quantum of resources spent and the fact that they started campaigns before the notice of poll by INEC. Apparently, because TAN was working in favour of the ruling party, they were left to undermine the campaign finance regime without rebuke.”
According to the report, APC spent N671,062,200,00, N190,380,000,00, and N410,050,000,00 million for Campaigns/Rallies, Expenses on BillBoards and Electronic Media campaign respectively.
While they spent the sum of N1,064,706,850,00 billion and N579,647,687,00 million for Electronic Media Advertisement and Print Media Campaign respectively. All the figures summed up amounts to the N2,915,846,737,00 billion, stated the report.
On the other hand, the report stated that PDP made the following expenditure for the 2015 Presidential election: Campaigns/ Rallies, Bill boards and Electronic Media campaign gulped N1,280,374,870,00 billion, N473,160,000,00 and N532, 100,000,00 million respectively.”
While N3,988,822,125,00 billion and N2,475,228,301,00 billion were expended by PDP on Electronic Media Advertisement and Print Media Advertisement for the election. A total of which amounts to N8,749,685,296,00 billion.
Eze Onyekpere noted that the actual expenses of the Parties were more than the summary captured by the report, because there were other expenditures peculiarly within the knowledge of the candidates and their campaign offices which the monitors did not have access to.
The report recommended that the National Assembly should reaffirm the law on ban of companies donating to political purposes and to candidates’ campaign finances. Adding that “donations to candidates and political parties should be made made tax deductible up to a maximum limit of the N1million ceiling for individual donations to candidates.”
“The report further recommended that “the Electoral Act should provide for compulsory collaboration between government agencies such as Federal Inland Revenue Service, INEC and the anti-corruption agencies to determine the source of funds donated to candidates and political parties. Also donors should be followed up by FIRS to verify their tax payments to the treasury.
“Costs of forms and expression of interest to contest should be regulated by INEC guidelines. This should in no circumstances exceed the current value of N2million.
The report also urged political parties to reform their campaign finance rules to ensure that all the party members begin to subscribe and pay membership dues and levies, adding that it will ensure accountability as members will demand to know how their money is spent.
While calling on other Civil Society organizations to intensify the monitoring of political finance as it is not a one off event but a continuous exercise which links election expenditure and resources to governance.
“Conduct in-depth studies and research on contributions of notable individuals and organisations to campaign funds of executive and legislative officials and their links to public procurement, privileges. Patronage, legislation and corruption in governance.” the report urged.
Also, the report didn’t spare the state governments that openly donated state money to the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign adding that it was illegal.
“This was wrong in law and in fact considering that indigenes of the state do not all belong to the same party. If the state government was ready and willing to make donations for political purposes, it should give the money across board to all the parties. However, this must be based on appropriation by the State House of Assembly,” the report stated.