Prof. Attahiru Jega, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slammed the National Assembly over the content of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, especially on the issue of spending limit for political parties.
Section 88 of the bill raised the spending limit for the presidential election from N1 billion to N15 billion – a 1,400 per cent increase. The campaign expenditure limit for the governorship election was raised by 2,400 per cent – from N200 million to N5 billion. Senatorial election was raised from N40 million to N1.5 billion, House of Representatives from N20 million to N500 million, and State House of Assembly from N10 million to N50 million.
Speaking during a Town Hall meeting on Electoral Bill 2021 organised by Channels Television on Sunday, Jega said by raising the maximum amount political parties are permitted to spend in elections, the action of the National Assembly will further entrench the phenomenon of ‘money politics’ in the country.
In the meeting monitored by Daily Independent correspondent, Jega wondered where the national assembly expects a presidential candidate to get N15 billion for campaign, saying the national assembly is turning Nigeria’s democracy to plutocracy, the government of the rich.
While calling on the national assembly to urgently address the spending limit clause, Jega said it will discourage those who do not have money to participate in politics.
He said “It is a very important issue. Where is a presidential candidate going to get N15 billion to run for election or a governor to get N5 billion? Unless you are Dangote or Otedola where you can use your own money”.
“So, what they are doing is that they are turning our democracy into plutocracy- government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich. So, it is a very serious problem. On the one hand you said you are including women and people with disability on the other hand, you are saying those who want to contest need to have a lot of money to be able to contest for a particular office”.
“It is a terrible contradiction and frankly, if people are serious, we have been talking a lot about reducing the influence of money in politics. But what they are doing through legislation is to actually make it more difficult for those who do not have money to be able to contest for office”.
“Left to me, this may be another thing that within the next 10 days, they should be able to really curtail”.