This from the Vanguard is generating quite a bit of discussion:
Buhari meanwhile, yesterday procured the party’s N27.5 million expression of interest and nomination forms at the national secretariat.
Lamenting that the costs of the forms were high, he said that it took the understanding of his bankers in Kaduna and Abuja to raise the money.
“It’s a pity I couldn’t influence this amount to be put down as in the case of ladies and the disabled that intend to participate. I always looked left and right in our meetings but I could not read sympathy, so I kept my trap.
“But I felt heavily sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and ask somebody to pay for my nomination forms, because I always try to pay myself, at least for the nomination.
“N27 million is a big sum, thankfully I have personal relationship with the manager of my bank in Kaduna and early this morning, I put an early call (and) I told him that very soon the forms are coming, so, whether I am on red, or green or even black please honour it, otherwise I may lose the nomination.
“I was about to go to Kaduna this morning and I told the Chairman (John Odigie-Oyegun) but he said in that case, you better pick your form and keep a straight face. That means there is no excuse,” Buhari said.
Responding after handing over the forms to Buhari, the national chairman of the party, Chief Odigie-Oyegun explained that the N27.5m was carefully chosen to “separate men from the boys”.
“Let me say that the N27.5m is to separate the men from the boys. It is quite clear. We know you. I don’t expect you have N27m under your bed. But I expected that there are Nigerians who will vouch for you any day and who are ready to stand for you any day and that is the result that we have obtained today”, he said.
There are a number of issues here:
1. The cost of nomination forms is clearly too high, and has been for a long time. The nomination form for the PDP, for instance, is N10 million. It creates a barrier for entry and along with an absence of independent candidacy, these are two of the most serious obstacles to get better candidates, especially at lower levels of governance, which are just as important as the Presidency, if not more so. This needs to change, and it will be a better use of our time than seeking a percentage of political positions for young people.
2. It is unclear what game Buhari was trying to play here, if any. The quotes above indicate that he did not have the cash on hand, for whatever reason, at the time, hence the need for a facility from the bank. In addition, from the quotes above, there is no mention of the word ‘loan’. Any number of reasons could have led to a situation where he had to call his bankers. The bottom line, of course, is that he wanted the form, and he got the form. No matter the cost.
3. The APC is barely a year old, competing with a party in power for 15 years, along with all the advantages that come with that position. They need to raise funds for a national campaign. A lot of funds. The presence of campaign finance regulations and their enforcement by INEC would have levelled the playing field somewhat, but that has no chance of happening soon. So, it is an arms race that accounts for the high cost of the forms. To those who bother with these things, it is a worrying sign. But most do not. So there.