“I felt heavily sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and ask somebody to pay for my nomination forms, because I always try to pay myself, at least for the nomination. N27 million is a big sum.”
The above quote was the lamentation of Muhammadu Buhari, the retired Army General and presidential aspirant on the platform of the then newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC), in October 2014, when he picked up the party’s presidential nomination form at the cost of N27.5 million.
Buhari, at the time, complained that he had tried to get the party’s leadership to reduce the amount but the National Chairman at the time, John Odigie-Oyegun, said to him, “you better pick your form and keep a straight face; that means there is no excuse”.
“Thankfully I have a personal relationship with the manager of my bank in Kaduna and I told him that very soon the forms are coming, so, whether I am on red, or green or even black please honour it otherwise I may lose the nomination,” Buhari said.
Explaining why the nomination form was that exorbitant, Odigie-Oyegun said it was intended “to separate the men from the boys”.
Fast-forward to 2018, four years later and a few months before another general election. The APC is no longer an opposition party, Buhari is no longer a presidential aspirant, and the presidential nomination form has skyrocketed to N45 million, a 63.6 percentage increase.
In 2014, governorship aspirants on the APC platform paid N5.5 million to purchase a nomination form, Senatorial aspirants paid N3.3 million, House of Representative’s aspirants paid N2.2 million, while State Assembly aspirants paid N550,000.
Today, the nomination form to contest for a governorship position, the Senate, House of Reps, or State Assembly has been pegged at N22.5 million, N7 million, N3.85 million and N850,000 respectively.
As at August 2014, Nigeria’s inflation rate was not up to 9 per cent, but according to the National Bureau of Statistics, the inflation rate currently stands at over 11 per cent. Perhaps, that is what also affected the price of APC’s nomination forms.
On the other hand, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sells its expression of interest and nomination form, for presidential aspirants, for N12 million, as against the N22 million price tag in 2015. Governorship aspirants will pay N6 million, senatorial and House of Reps aspirants are to pay N3.5 million and N1.5 million respectively, while state assembly aspirants will pay N600,000.
It is not immediately clear why the APC decided to increase the price of nomination forms, despite pleas by the not-too-young-to-run group for political parties to make their nomination forms affordable to youths who are interested in contesting.
On the social media, many complained that the nomination forms was way too expensive.
Ismaeel Ahmed tweeted: “Just so we are clear, I believe the amounts for nomination forms of my party, APC, as publicized is prohibitively expensive and obnoxious. We will officially write for it to be reviewed. Pecuniary bottlenecks must not be deliberately planted to limit participation.”
Another tweeter user, Sunday Chisom wrote: “After holistically looking at how the political parties are structured, and how expensive the nomination forms are, sincerely, no way for the youths in this country’s politics.”
When President Buhari signed the age reduction bill, also known as the not-too-young-to-run bill, into law in May this year, he pleaded with the young people, albeit jokingly, not to run against him come 2019. It is conceivable the exorbitant price for nomination forms is APC’s way of ensuring that the presidential plea was complied with.
Besides, a presidential aide on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, had told newsmen, in July, that “a number of groups have promised to purchase the forms for the president as their own way of appreciating the good leadership President Buhari is offering the country”.