Sometime in the month of August 2022, the show I am a part of hosted the spokesperson to the Presidential Candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Adeniyi Kunnu.
We spoke about the the possibility of collaboration between smaller political parties in Nigeria toward winning elections on the WAYS Show Africa (a primetime show on DSTV Ch 408/Startimes Ch 308). During the conversation, our guest talked about the ADC and the passion of its Presidential Candidate — Dumebi Kachukwu — for a better Nigeria and the willingness of the party (which is not a small party) to collaborate towards a common goal.
The lead anchor and creator of WAYS Show, Osayuwamen Saleh, also opined that for there to be an efficient collaborative effort, it might be necessary for the smaller parties to read the room while making their decision. It was on the back of this that i asked Mr Kunnu if he thinks that the presidential candidate of his party, ADC, will be open to stepping down for a possible merger towards winning the presidential election.
His response was clear, Mr Kachukwu would be the one to make that heavy decision. He added that investments have been made, to which I asked, what is the return on the investments?
You can watch the full conversation below:
That conversation got me thinking about the cost of running a campaign in Nigeria and our expectations of these candidates after having spent so much to convince us to vote for them. Responding to my latter question, Mr Kunnu said the ADC’s ROI is the need to contribute toward emancipating the country from the shackles of retrogression.
If this response is anything to go by, history will quickly remind us of the merger fall out between smaller political parties in the lead up to the 2019 general elections involving people like KIngsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye, Obi Ezekwesili, and others.
This begs to question the intent of our politicians — present and past.
Where do we draw the line with regard to spending for campaigns? There is a supposed campaign spending limit, although a report published just last month revealed that a new campaign spending ceiling in an amendment to the nation’s electoral law passed by lawmakers has jacked up this limit by about 150 per cent to 400 per cent.
Before its amendment, Nigeria’s electoral law provides that “a political party sponsoring the election of a candidate shall, within three months of the announcement of the results of the election, file a report of the contributions made by individuals and entities to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).” To which majority of the political parties were constantly in clear violation of, as reported.
The new campaign spending ceilings in the bill will now allow presidential candidates to increase their cash spend from the current N1 billion to N5 billion, while governorship candidates will be able to spend N1 billion and not the current N200 million. And of course, certain loopholes ensure that breaking this law is not rocket science.
Running a campaign is not cheap, however, it might be time for us to begin to question the source of the funds used for this purpose. Do we look to adopt crowdfunding as a major source of campaign funds? Will citizens be willing to become investors in their future rather than auctioneers of it?
Nigerians claim to be dissatisfied with the current state of the nation and there is a general consensus that good governance is the way to better the nation. Now, if we are all on the same page on this, why is so difficult to focus on ideology-based politicking rather than selflish or highest bidder politicking?
The ROI for them include the appointment of individuals to loot the treasury.
If you want to know the sources of funds for elections in Nigeria look down to Local Government elections where a State with 40 LGAs all votes will swing to the party in power at the State level.
And Political Parties are not even willing to open their books for scrutiny.
I wouldn’t quite look at this in terms of “ROI” cos why should we call it that? What investment? Running for office is a service, service to the people and no matter what is being said, political parties remain the vehicles that will drive people into offices. Therefore what we should question is the spread of a political party. And this spread can only be as strong as it’s members. In my lifetime as a Nigerian, I am yet to see a small political party make any dent on political outcomes in the National sense, though some political parties have had an impact on State elections like APGA and the now mammoth APC which at some point was the AC of Lagos. Lessons must be learnt here because many of our young political actors think themselves a sort of maverick to make a huge impact on the national front but history is replete with examples of the impossibility of this. Party members fund their parties and the bigger a party, the larger the contributions and the greater impact they may have in terms of spread.
This isn’t a question of ROI but one of vision and strategy. What is the ethos of your party and how do you want to have this vision implemented? Are you ready to take the pains of getting people to join your party and build a followership? Once these questions are honestly answered then the individuals are well on their way to achieving great success as politicians.
Let’s not kid ourselves, politics is hard work! And the reward is the joy of acceptance by the majority of the people, it shows you’re impacting their lives somehow. Now that can be termed an “ROI”
Our interests as individuals superceding what best suits the nation, has a great role to play in choosing between an ideology based politicking and a selfish or highest bidder politicking. So many Nigerians are concerned about the material things they would gain if their choice candidate win an election than how well that candidate would perform as a leader if elected.