Youths, activists, politicians fault APC, PDP over high nomination fee

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…I don’t have N55million for form, Buhari insists

…Parties keep mum

By Ayo Fadimu

The exorbitant rate charged by the two leading political parties in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for aspirants seeking political offices on their platforms has drawn the ire of youths, first time office seekers and activists who described the fees as outrageous and far above what a honest conscientious worker can cough out for an uncertain venture.

The two parties recently announced the cost of their nomination forms for different political positions for the 2019 general elections.

On its part, APC proposed N55m as the cost of the nomination and expression of interest forms for the office of President, while PDP pegged its own at N12m

For the office of the governor, APC charged each aspirants N22.5m while PDP’s form cost N6m. For the Senate, APC aspirants will pay N8.5m as against the N3.5m the PDP is asking from its aspirants for the same position

House of Representatives aspirants under the platform of APC will pay N3.8m while those seeking the same office in PDP will pay N1.5m.

Each House of Assembly aspirant will pay N1.1m in APC so as to get the party’s nod to contest while those in PDP will cough out N600,000 before the party can allow them to contest.

However, several youth’s associations including not too young campaigners had vowed to oppose the high cost of nomination forms being charged by the major political parties.

One of the campaigners, Bamidele Oyelade who spoke with our correspondent wondered where a youth will get N22.5million to get nomination form for governorship seat. He also called on the President to assent to electoral act as it contains regulations on amount to be charged by political parties as nomination fee.

It would be recalled that  the Senate on March 30, passed the Electoral Act No 6 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2017  and one of the things it will do when signed into law, is abolish arbitrary fees for nomination forms fixed by political parties.

President Muhammadu Buhari had famously claimed he borrowed money to pay for his nomination form which cost N25 million, in the build up to the 2015 general elections.

The bill had put a N10 million limit on the forms. The Bill is also aimed at instituting reforms in the electoral process by making it more free, fair and credible.

One of the features of the act is that parties can no longer impose arbitrary nomination fees on political aspirants. The bill passed prescribes limits for each elective office as follows:

(a) N150, 000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT;

(b) N250, 000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT;

(c) N500, 000 for a house of assembly aspirant;

(d) N1, 000, 000 for a house of representatives aspirant;

(e) N2, 000, 000 for a senatorial aspirant;

(f) N5, 000, 000) for a governorship aspirant; and

(g) N10, 000, 000) for a presidential aspirant.

In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the N55million price tag by his party on the nomination form for his office as outrageous and said, he cannot afford it.

Four years ago, the President said he had to collect loan from his bank, Union bank to pay for his form, then sold at N27.5 million. The President said he only  lived on his salary since he assumed office three years ago and therefore, could not raise N55 million.

On its part, Campaign of Democracy lampooned the parties for fixing prices far higher than what an average youth can afford.

The National Publicity secretary of the group, Comrade Lanre Ogunyinka said the parties want the highest bidders to come forward and not the competent ones.

“Sincerely, if we must speak the truth to the Nigerian youth or youths in Nigeria, it should have become certainly clear to discerning minds among them, and in recent times, with the activities of most of  the dominating political parties across the land that only in their hands that their destinies hold! And not by the doing of the rhetorics of older folks or leading political parties that appear to have mortgaged the chances of any youth to contest for any position of power or governance. This irrespective of the so much touted not too young bill significance or wolf cries about “the youth are the leaders of tomorrow! .This observation appears so real with the recent high cost of forms to contest among almost all these parties,” Ogunyinka said.