With less than a year to the much-anticipated 2023 presidential elections, the stakes are higher than ever and so is the spending. The presidential candidates of the political parties participating in the 2023 election have all declared their running mates, activating the next phase of the presidential election journey, campaigning. 

Many Nigerians have speculated that Nigerian politicians spend a huge chunk of money on primaries and campaigns. Ironically, Nigerian law supports spending of up to N5 billion or $12 million in election campaigns. The N5 billion or $12 million increased from N1 billion or $2.4 million in January 2022. 

A former presidential spokesman and the placeholder for the Labour Party once said, “No Nigerian President in the last 20 years has spent less than $100m to be President. It is now upwards of $300m. I know this because I am an insider.” According to him, Nigerian politicians generate these funds from sponsors, who are then repaid through inflated government projects and stolen funds.

By this discovery, the funds needed to win a presidential election in Nigeria exceed the N305 billion or $733 million budgeted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold elections in 176,846 polling units in the 774 local government areas of the country. 

Ahead of the campaign scheduled to begin on Sept 28th 2022, Brief takes a deep dive into why presidential candidates spend so much to win elections. 

The first hurdle to cross in getting elected to a public office in Nigeria is to win the party’s primaries. To participate in the primaries, aspirants must purchase the party’s form of interest. 

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) sold its presidential form for N40 million or $96,153 while Nigeria’s ruling party, the All-Progressive Congress (APC) sold its presidential form for N100 million. These prices are over 1000x more than the country’s minimum wage; a country where half of its about 200 million population live below the poverty line of $2 per day. 

Former chairman of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, Chief John Oyegun once said that the high prices of a presidential ticket is to “separate boys from men”. 

Also at presidential primaries, voting delegates are allegedly bribed by aspirants to increase their chances of securing the party’s ticket. Bribery cost a total of between $15m and $20m as the over 1000 delegates allegedly receive as high as $20000 each.

Main election 
Political analysts in Nigeria say that presidential candidates set aside funds to allegedly buy votes and bribe electoral officers present at each of the 176, 846 polling units. They also pay party agents N10,000 or $24 to man polling units to prevent the stealing of votes. All the above inclusions amount to $4.2 million. 

Presidential candidates also spend money on campaign logistics, including advertisements, campaign incentives, transportation, legal fees, etc. 

What you should know 

  • To support their preferred candidate, Nigerians are considering crowdfunding their preferred candidate. This unique situation applies to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
  • Unfortunately, Nigeria’s current laws do not support crowdfunding. In fact, “Section 85(b) of the Nigerian constitution says any political party that retains any fund or other asset remitted to it from outside Nigeria commits an offence and shall on conviction forfeit the funds and would pay a fine.”
  • “Section 90 of the new Electoral Act also says a political party shall not accept or keep in its possession any anonymous monetary or other contributions, gifts or property, from any source while the name and address of anyone who contributes over N1m ($2, 403).” 
  • In view of this, Nigerians are calling for the tweaking of such restricting financial laws. 
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