I challenge all the politicians campaigning for office in 2011 to publish an account of there campaign finances.
During the IBB years the most funded state enterprise was elections, elections and elections. For 8 years the only business of state was all related directly or indirectly to elections. First the funding and establishment of elaborate political parties. Then a constitutional type debate structure that “developed” the manifestoes of the political parties the SDP and the NRC. This after a massive rush by multiple party platforms to get recognized and which the President, IBB quashed and introduced the ideologies “a little to the left and a little to the right” meaning Social Democratic Party (left leaning) and a National Republican Convention (Right leaning). Great intellectual quality and great and convincing argument. We all got sucked in. But the President, IBB was simply playing politics. He was by the way being advised, as at that time by the most intellectual and accomplished educators and social engineers in the country. It was all a mistake. He managed to suck them in as well. His intention was never to really hand over. Whether this was his sole decision or was he being pushed by the likes of Abacha is still a story that is yet to be told. IBB has not told the whole story. That makes him culpable. Anyway no one would believe him given his history of simulations. He would need to employ more that Chukwumerije to spin himself out of the issues and questions that he has to answer. Not again would he be as convincing as during that fated national broadcast that established the SDP and the NRC. But IBB is not the topic today.
After all the funds or shall we say wastage of national funds during that 8 year IBB era. Now we have a thriving democracy and some questions beg to be answered. Namely: with the massive violence that follows elections, who pays the thugs, the riggers, the ballot “stuffers”, the biased poll officials and the praise singers? Surely they cannot be funding themselves. That is one questions. Two, why is it that no one knows anything about how elections candidates raise their funds? To contest elections in Nigeria cannot be cheap given that the country practically has no credit system. Could it be that the banks toxic loans have been used by failed candidates? Could the expensive nature of Nigerian elections have contributed to the dearth of quality candidates during elections. Many responsible Nigerians do not have the funding to contest elections except they are backed by some rich and affluent source. A look at the background of most of the office holders would show that many of them where former government officials and many of them were funding their campaign from personal finances. The use of personal finances in campaigns could be a factor in election violence since it would mean that the candidates have more at stake. It will be interesting if election candidates where to raise their funds directly from the public. First of all it would make them less likely to have a huge stake in the success or failure of their election and it would make success at raising funds a possible indication of the popularity of the candidates. Possibly it will guarantee that elected official would have no one to account to but the electorate.
Raising funds directly from the public will have one more strategic impact. Dreams, visions, programmes and power will become the campaign instruments not arm wrestling and twisting among delegates. I like the fact that Atiku wrote a letter to all the delegates. I want him to go a little further; find a way to convince them to raise or give money to your campaign. Anyone of them that does this will definitely vote for you. A donor is a proper stakeholder and will defend that right lawfully. Instead of bribing them if you can sell a dream to them and get them to “invest” in it lawfully, pronto, you got the vote. Right now according to the former CBN Governor Mr. Soludo there needs to be a debate on the economic future of the country. According to him the economy is in a place that something have to give very soon. So if the candidates were to raise there funding from the public that simply will mean a campaign of ideas, vision, programmes and power. No one will be convinced to donate money to a candidate that he does not somehow believe in. There are many events, campaign rallies, and activities that the candidates can easily use to raise money for there campaign. And finally it will be interesting to have the details of all donations to any particular campaign above a certain threshold, N20000, say. I will like to know what amount of money Alhaji Dangote, for instance, has donated towards the Goodluck Jonathan campaign. I will like to know how much Chief Mike Adenuga is contributing towards any campaign at all. Recently, IBB complained, indirectly that his salary as a former head of state is being delayed. He too is probably feeling the pinch of scarce funds and feels a plot to starve him of it when he needs it more. If so I will like to know who else is not feeling it. How will the donations affect elected officials’ policies and acts after elections. For instance, how will Dangote’s donations affect the price of Cement in the future? I do not mean to imply anything by using the instance of Dangote, it’s just a thought.
I challenge all the politicians campaigning for office in 2011 to publish an account of there campaign finances. Let everyone know who donated the funds and that no funds where accepted from donors that will potentially harm your mandate after a successful election. It is one thing to peg the funds that can be spent by a candidate but is another to know how he got that money and more importantly how he spent it. How much goes into paying campaign staff (who are his campaign staff), how much for venue hires, publications, advertisements and overall events and promotional expenditures. We need to also know that the candidates are not funding thugs, and violence. There is no doubt that this takes place in every election. People get paid to take out the opposition. State operatives who have been asking for permission to investigate certain people for years suddenly get a push to hurry up and take action against candidates. This is all dirty and unfair. Elections finance model must be addressed if we are to have fair elections. After the 2011 electoral law this is the next best thing to have in good democracy. The campaign finance regulations in the recent 2011 electoral law needs further amendment. We must ask for it. We must level the playing ground and allow leadership to rise up out of the ordinary people not from former ministers, commissioners, governors, permanent secretaries, MPs etc. Those who have “embezzled” enough public funds to usurp more power in the name of election. I will like to see that President Jonathan depends on funds from people like me than on funds from his party, his personal funds or even some misappropriated funds from the the federal purse. If he is serious about this let him unilaterally publish his campaign funding and expenditure before and the elections. Let some auditor, KPMG, have a go at it. IBB, Buhari and Atiku should do the same. Otherwise, believe me when I tell you, all the money we have in the “2011 borrowing plan” is going into elections. And who is it that gets it? Guess what, the thugs, the kidnappers and the movement for the sovereign state of whatever.