APC presidential primary: Knocks as group buys N45m forms for Buhari
Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi, Eniola Akinkuotu and Adelani Adepegba
The opposition groups including the Peoples Democratic Party, Coalition for Nigeria Movement and the Social Democratic Party
have lashed out at the All Progressives Congress over the high cost of its nomination forms.
The APC had on Tuesday stated that a presidential aspirant would pay N45m for its expression of interest and nominations forms; a governorship aspirant would pay N22.5m; a senatorial aspirant, N7m; House of Representatives, N3.85m; and state assemblies, N850, 000.
Commenting on the high cost of nomination forms, the PDP said it had confirmed the APC as a party of looters.
It said for a party that charged so little four years ago to turn around three years later and ask its members to bring so much to pick nomination forms, was “horrible”.
National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday, asked Nigerians to notice the sudden change in the fortune of the APC.
He said, “When we heard about the nomination fees, we all thought it was a lie or joke. But events have shown that the fees are real and the APC is indeed a party of deceit.
“How do you want someone who claimed not to have touched N14m three years ago to now have such huge sum of money when he claimed he came to power to serve?
“We have now seen that instead of serving Nigerians, the APC and its members have come to serve themselves and their cronies.
“The amount of money it is asking its members and even Nigerians interested in elective offices to bring is horrible and criminal.
“Such action has shown the APC as a party of a few people who have either looted funds meant for the entire Nigerians or are still looting.
“Nigerians should resist it by running away from the party and its agents. In the next four years, it will definitely ask Nigerians to pay like N100m for presidential nomination fees.”
Secondus also doubted the claim that a group of people had purchased the forms for President Muhammadu Buhari.
APC not committed to fighting corruption-Obasanjo-led coalition
On its part, the CNM led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Buhari deceived Nigerians in a similar manner during the build-up to the presidential primary of the APC when he claimed that he took a loan of N27.5m in order to purchase the APC forms.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on Wednesday, the Spokesman for the CNM, Mr Akin Osuntokun, said the party was not committed to fighting corruption.
He said, “Any party that claims to fight corruption needs to deemphasise the idea of splashing money around or placing fees ranging from N45 to N50m to purchase forms. If your aim is to weed out pretenders from the list of aspirants, there are other ways to do that. It doesn’t have to be monetary.
“This is nothing but hypocrisy on the part of the APC. The President had said in 2014 that he obtained a bank loan in order to purchase the form. How did he pay it back? Today, they claim some youths purchased the forms but this is nothing but hypocrisy.
“The APC has already made it clear that Buhari will be its candidate. So, why are they engaging in these games?”
APC not youth-friendly –SDP
Also, the Social Democratic Party said the high cost of nomination and expression of interest forms had shown that the APC was a party that was neither youth friendly nor considerate about the realities of today’s Nigeria.
The National Publicity Secretary of the SDP, Alfa Mohammed, said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
He said, “We are not surprised that the APC has put such an outrageous amount of money as fees for its forms. We have said it several times that the APC intends to rig the forthcoming elections by inducing voters.
“And to do that, they need a lot of money. One of the means of getting such money is to levy their aspirants heavily.
“Otherwise, how did (President Muhammadu) Buhari pay for his nomination form in 2014?
“Even then people had to rally round and donate before he was able to purchase his own. We are talking of Not-too-Young-to-Run, how do you expect young persons, most of whom are unemployed, to raise such outrageous fees?
“It is an indication also that they are anti -youths, they are anti-masses, they do not have the interest of the masses at heart, and they are not concerned about credible leadership. They do not want credible people to participate in the election.”
Speaking in a similar vein, the National Chairman of the United Peoples Party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said the cost was quite high and was obviously outside of the reach of most Nigerians.
He, however, said, “The good thing is that we have over 90 political parties, people who have what it takes and feel they are popular can exploit other platforms to realise their political goals of providing service to the people.”
APC won’t use public funds to finance polls
When contacted, the acting National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, said unlike the PDP, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration would never betray public trust because it wanted to contest in an election.
He said, “Everybody knows that this administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will never put its hands into the public treasury to take money for elections.
“Unlike the PDP which went to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and got public money from Diezani Allison- Madueke and the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, we will not do that. We have decided to use what we get from the sale of forms to run our elections. I wonder why the PDP has made this their business.
A civil society group, Advocates for Good Governance, described the high nomination fees being charged by political parties as corruption, noting that it would encourage office-holders to steal public fund.
AGG Convener, Macdonald Akhirome, stated that high nomination fees by parties were the seed of political corruption in the country, which he said the National Assembly should curb through appropriate legislation.
“This (high nomination fee) is the grassroots origination of corrupt practices, it is clear that corruption is being encouraged at the party level because if aspirants are paying such exorbitant amounts of money at that level, what do you expect them to do when they get to the office?” he wondered.
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, noted that the outrageous fees were meant to discourage indigent individuals from running for office.
He said, “Even though the opposition parties have drastically reduced their nomination fees, they are still not ready to make public office unattractive because they are making aspirants to get money by all means to purchase nomination forms and this encourages corruption.”
The activist added, “When people get into office, they would try to recoup the money they used in buying nomination forms and campaign. This would make them dip their hands in public coffers. If the end goal was to ensure accountability, the nomination forms should be almost free.”
Meanwhile, a group of supporters of the President has paid and obtained the expression of interest and nomination forms valued at N45m for Buhari.
Members of the group under the aegis of Nigeria Consolidation Ambassador Network were received by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, at the party’s national secretariat, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
The National Coordinator of the group, Sunusi Musa, said President Buhari did not have the cash but had sufficient goodwill which members of the group were at the APC secretariat to prove.
The cost of the nomination form for the President is N40m while the expression of interest form is being sold for N5m.
This is coming less than 24 hours after the National Working Committee of the APC decided to review the cost of the forms downwards from N55m.
Musa said the group decided to buy the forms for the President as a mark of appreciation for the quality leadership he had provided the country for a little over three years.
Musa said, “ Mr Chairman, it is my honour and rare privilege to present to you a cheque of N45m as payment for the expression of interest and nomination forms for President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We have no doubt that Mr President has, both in action and in words, been working hard to lay a foundation for greater and prosperous nation that our generation and future generation will be proud of.
“Under his administration, Nigeria has become a country sought after for investments in the world; Nigeria has assumed its leadership role in not just Africa but the world.
“For the first time since the return of democracy, Nigerians have a President who can beat his chest and state that he has never stolen from the purse of government.”
He said the President had also not been found wanting in the area of protecting the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians and that he had brought positive changes to the way government ran its business.
“It is for this reason, Mr Chairman, that we have decided to pull our meagre resources together and purchase the expression of interest and nomination forms for President Buhari as he presents himself to our party members to be chosen as its candidate for the 2019 general elections. Our members from the various villages, local governments and states have contributed to making this happen,” Musa said.
Buhari, who is widely believed to be the party’s sole aspirant for the ticket, has yet to make a pronouncement as to whether or not he has accepted the group’s gesture.