Many Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction with the speed at which electoral processes have been linked to the use of money and other valuables in recent times.
A cross-section of those who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday expressed their discontent over the development.
Peter Kua, a businessman from Makurdi, Benue state, said the way money is used in politics has become very worrying.
“People with questionable characters use money to buy their way to various elective positions.
“It is very sad that the masses have been mortgaging their rights and the future of their children because of peanuts.
“We are encouraging these people who brandish or throw money at us to take advantage of our gullibility to further impoverish us,” Kua said.
In addition, Tersoo Ade, a taxi driver in Makurdi, appealed to the National Assembly for the nation’s interest in adopting direct primaries as the only mode of party primaries to control the influence of moneybags.
Mr. Ade stressed that if direct primaries were adopted and enshrined in the Electoral Act, it would go a long way in saving the Nigerian political system from complete collapse.
Corroborating Mr. Ade, Jacob Terwase lamented that if nothing was done about the ugly development, only bags of money could win the country’s elections.
“Without money, one cannot make any significant move in any political party, even if you were an angel, because the interested parties always expect a transportation fee, whether they visited them or the aspirants visited them.
“If something is not done about it, only the highest bidders will choose party tickets.
“My brother, money has completely destroyed our politics. Just look at what happened during the last PDP primaries here in Makurdi where the state House of Assembly hopefuls were offering each delegate N1 million.
“We even have a situation where a House challenger offered N1.5 million and still lost because his opponent offered more,” Terwase said.
Another resident, Charity Tyolaha, said that for the country to produce a credible leader, serious efforts must be made to mitigate the use of money in politics.
Ms. Tyolaha also said that the direct form of primary elections remained the best option and urged stakeholders to opt for it.
She said that if direct primaries were adopted as the primary mode, many people in leadership positions would not be there.
The Campaign for Democracy, Defense of Human Rights, Civil Society in Niger therefore called on the National Assembly to introduce strict laws to discourage increased monetary policy by politicians in the country.
Abdullahi Jabi, the group’s chairman, said: “The amended electoral law of 2022 is not strong enough to address the extensive corruption that occurs in our electoral system.
“Therefore, there is a need for the National Assembly to introduce tough laws that reduce the current huge amount of money a politician must spend to win elective office.
“The same law should monitor the bank details and the spending of political parties and their Applicants/Candidates.”
Jabi said the move would encourage responsible Nigerians who wish to serve the people to get involved in politics.
He said that responsible Nigerians who want to serve the country have been denied the opportunity due to their financial strength as a result of further monetization of politics.
“For example, ordinary Nigerians cannot afford to buy expression of interest forms in their various political parties because the money for such forms is high, meant only for the wealthy.
“Our politics remains the exclusive right of our politicians who have embezzled public funds and their families.
“These people still want to stay in power at all costs because they have turned our national treasure into their family business,” he said.
The group’s chairman described the ongoing party primary election as an embarrassment and embarrassment to the country.
“Today, the delegates have become rich overnight thanks to the money offered to them by corrupt politicians, some of whom get between 15 and 20 million naira each.
“This is what is currently happening in the primary elections held so far, it is sad and it is not a good development for our country,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to oppose this group of politicians or they would continue to perpetuate themselves in power and dump other members of their families before leaving the scene.
In his opinion, Hamzat Lawal, executive director of Connected Development, a civil society organization, called on all anti-corruption agencies to step up their games to control the increase in monetary policy in Nigeria.
Lawal, an anti-corruption campaigner and founder of Follow the Money, said that the fact that “monetary policy remains a precedent in Nigeria clearly means that anti-corruption agencies are not doing enough.
“If the anti-corruption agencies are doing enough, people with bags of money would have been afraid to use the money to attract or induce voters for their profits.
“If we are to get it right, we must embrace our value system that has eroded because we traded our rights for a meager one-day stipend and suffered hardship for the four to eight years the candidate will spend in office.
“It is really sad that the politics of money has taken its toll on all electoral processes in Nigeria.
“Interestingly, civil society organizations have deployed observers who are monitoring and documenting the entire process of the party primaries and the upcoming general elections.
“We shall, with due cause, release our findings to the public, including the international communities,” he said.
Nathaniel Abaniwo, coordinator of the Kogi NGO Network (KONGONET), said that monetary policy has become endemic in Nigeria’s political system and “is not healthy for our political landscape and our economy.”
He blamed part of the problem on the failure of government at all levels to muster and absorb the political will to reduce the cost of governance and ensure transparency and accountability at all levels.
Mr. Abaniwo called for proper involvement of anti-corruption agencies in proper supervision of the electoral process at all stages, while ensuring the prosecution of wayward politicians and electorate.
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A retired farmer and civil servant, Hafsat Ibrahim, said that monetary policy in Kogi has denied credible, God-fearing politicians opportunities to represent the suffering electorate.
He expressed his regret that the very people or bodies that should help checkmate the threat are deep in it and therefore only God can bring change to save the suffering masses.
“My concern and pain is that it is women like myself and our youth, who make up the largest voting population, who are vulnerable to this game of money politics,” she said.
Olugbenga Ademola, a lawyer and politician, stressed the need for the government and relevant stakeholders to correct the anomalies.
He warned, “if nothing drastic is done about this disturbing trend, only those with the money to throw away will fraudulently buy their way into office in the 2023 general election.
“There are still some loopholes to be addressed in the Electoral Act 2002, 2006 and 2010, such as Section 91(9), which states that no individual or other entity shall donate more than N1 million to any candidate.
“In addition, Section 93(2)(b) gives political parties leverage to receive unlimited amounts above the threshold, which is contradictory.
”Each party is required to record and retain the name and address of any person or entity contributing money or assets in excess of Naira million.
“Some candidates took advantage of the loophole to technically exceed the limit by transferring the extra money to their party.
“Other donors also took advantage of the arrangement to donate funds amounting to billions of Naira, on behalf of various anonymous friends.”
Mr. Ademola noted that this is the time to play down monetary policy and promote robust party manifestos with a “human face” that can offer lasting solutions to people’s most pressing needs.
He then ordered INEC to rise to the occasion and prosecute anyone found at fault for breaking political finance regulations to serve as a lesson to others.
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