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[NIGERIA] 2015 POLLS: I Pity Myself For Paying N27.5m For APC Nomination Form —Rt Gen. Buhari

The exorbitant prices of party nomination forms have pushed many prospective elective office seekers into an aggressive drive for funds.

Many of them have started selling off assets, even as solicitations of all kinds have risen manifold.


Even Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), complained about the fees charged by his party for its expression of interest and nomination forms, saying he felt sorry for himself having to cough up N27.5 million for the forms.

Politicians, who spoke with the media in Abuja about the exorbitant cost of electioneering in Nigeria, said with the timetable out and with the primaries only a matter of days, the pressure to spend money has become more intense.


While some have properties to sell, others have resorted to intense funds solicitation. A new dimension is that others have actually secured loans from friends, families, associates and banks to use for the purpose of buying nomination forms and other campaign activities.


Getting loans from banks, they lamented, is not easy, as commercial banks are wary of granting loans to those they termed “politically exposed persons”.


Such loans are immediately classified as “bad loans”, said a banker who spoke anonymously.
But the sale of land, cars and other assets is experiencing a boom in the Abuja area with buyers having an edge in the market. As such, property agents are smiling to the bank, as they fleece desperate politicians who are ready to sell at “forced sale values” to raise the needed funds.


When assets are sold at “forced sale value”, they are sold below their actual market value due to the desperation of the seller to raise funds.
Some have actually sold off whole estates for a pittance. Choice properties in the upscale part of the capital now have “For Sale” signs all over them with few buyers interested.


In another finding, politicians now task their governors or other godfathers to help them buy forms, as they are cash strapped. A certain state governor (name withheld) has concluded plans to buy forms and sponsor all aspirants loyal to him. This has greatly brightened his chances for re-election, said a source close to the development.


Nomination forms for House of Assembly is N2.2 million for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while the governorship form is N10 million. Many politicians have said they cannot afford them. As a result, resorting to begging has become the norm.


Audu Bako, a politician based in Abuja, told reporters that there was nothing outlandish about the development.
“Seeking office in Nigeria is not easy. See how the parties have jacked up the prices of nomination forms and the intention fee. Don’t forget that it is not just buying the forms.


“When you are going to pick the forms, you have to also carry your supporters along, meaning spending more money for entertainment and other activities,” he said.


He noted further that with the current cashless policy of the federal government, access to cash is beginning to affect the way politicians normally conduct their businesses.


“This is the first time that politicians are faced with a situation where they are cash-strapped. Can you imagine a situation where some are still looking for cash? Normally, there should be plenty of money in the system by now but I tell you that is seriously lacking. So what we are doing now is raising funds. Some of us have organised fundraising activities,” Bako said.


But the fundraising dinners are not effective, lamented one of the politicians. James Ndabani is angling to become a member of one of the state Houses of Assembly.


A young man in his early 30's, he set out on the journey without a serious financial backer. Last week, he revealed that he had a fundraising dinner where he invited friends and well wishers to one of the posh hotels in Abuja.

At a well-attended meeting, Ndabani thought he could raise the needed funds to buy forms and attend to other election-related matters. “I was disappointed, “he said.


“Most of the pledges have not come in and as I speak with you now, I’m wondering where I would get the money for forms and the eventual money I need to use,” he added.

Apart from buying forms, office seekers need huge funds to cater for transportation, feeding and accommodating delegates. It is also a delegates' market, as various prospective office seekers try to woo them with cash.


Kenneth Nima is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja. He said the nation’s politics is still crude as it relates to the use of money.
“The truth is that power is no longer just a game of numbers. It is now something of a commodity to the highest bidder. I’m not surprised because these days all you hear people ask is do you even have the money to run for office.


“Of course, in all democracies, money plays a vital role before, during and after elections. But in this country, the use of money is near bizarre. It is crude and pervasive. Delegates are not swayed by sentiments or superior arguments. They have to be bought wholesale,” he explained.


But it is not just politicians seeking elective office at the lower rungs of the political ladder that are lamenting, as Buhari yesterday complained about the fees charged by APC for its expression of intent and nomination forms.


However, the Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, while issuing the nomination form to Buhari, assured him that the leadership of the party would do everything to hold a rancour-free presidential primary.


Speaking while at the APC headquarters to pick his nomination form, the former military head of state said he tried during the meeting of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC), to see if he could influence the reduction of the fees but could not.


“If I were not part of the constitutional body of the party and the fact that I am part of those that formed this party, I would have complained about the amount that we have to pay. I have always tried to sit on the right hand side of the chairman,” he said.
Buhari said with his formal declaration of intention to vie for the presidency, all speculations and permutations would now cease to allow for the best traditional democracy to produce the party's standard-bearer and subsequently the next president of the country.


“It is a pity that I could not influence this amount that has to be paid like it was done for the ladies who are trying to participate and for the disabled. I looked left and right and could not read sympathy on anybody's face and so I kept my trap shut and felt heavily sorry for myself because I don't want to go and ask anybody to pay for my nomination form.


“If you could recall, in all the contests, I have always tried to pay myself at least for the nomination form. But the N27.5 million these days is high.


“Thank God I have a personal relationship with the chairman of my bank. I called him and told him that the funds are coming and so, whether my accounts is in red or green or black, you must honour this, otherwise I will lose the nomination.


“I was about to go to Kaduna today to tell the chairman (of the bank), but he said you better pick the form and keep a straight face. That means that there is no excuse. I thank God that we have gotten to this stage and all speculations will now cease. In the best tradition of democracy, people can now follow their choice of candidate into the arena,” he said.


Odigie-Oyegun said after due analysis of the calibre of presidential aspirants such as Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in the party’s fold, Nigeria “already has a president in-waiting”.


Odigie-Oyegun vowed to conduct a “transparent, free, fair and rancour-free presidential primary and other primaries”, stressing that once that is accomplished, “I will pack my bag and leave this place”.


“Buhari is a harbinger of change. In spite of his age. He has continued to surprise me every day. The N27.5 million is to separate the boys from the men. We know you and don’t expect you to have N27 million under your bed. But I expect that there are Nigerians who will vouch for you any day and who are ready to stand by you any day and that is the result that we have obtained today,” he said.


The party's national chairman said having watched the live coverage of Buhari's declaration for the presidency on Wednesday, it dawned on him that APC had arrived, adding the party may lean back to accommodate a consensus arrangement if it became necessary.


“I want to congratulate you for the event that I watched on television yesterday. It was good for you, it was good for me and it was good for the party. I watched it and I know that the entire nation was watching it and I know inside me, what they will be saying that truly, the APC has arrived and they mean business.


“I will give you one clear assurance and that is, if there is consensus amongst the aspirants, we as a party will welcome it. But if there is no consensus, we are going to give you the cleanest, the most transparent primary.


“We must run a rancour-free presidential primary such that it becomes easy for all the aspirants to embrace one another and work with one another. We will do whatever we can in that regard and I intend to talk to all the aspirants once we know the number of aspirants we have,” he said.


The National Organising Secretary of the party, Izunasor, confirmed that he had received the bank draft evidencing payment from Buhari.



Source: This Day
Politics 5302127982409630016

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