THE local government employees’ arm of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has criticised the All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly frustrating the chances of women and youths who might be interested in contesting for political offices in the 2023 general election.
National president of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Olatunji Ambali, said APC’s decision to peg the expression of interest and nomination forms for the presidential position at the sum of N100 million was to frustrate the NotTooYoungToRun Act.
With the law, young persons from age 35 could contest for president in Nigeria.
He spoke during an interview with The ICIR in Abuja.
“What the youth thought they have achieved, they (APC) have destroyed,” Ambali said.
“How many youths can afford N10 million? You can see that we are not serious in Nigeria. If you ask someone to bring N100 million for an expression of interest form, are you not converting a political position into a commercial venture?” he queried.
“That is not encouraging. How can women raise N100 million, for God’s sake? How can the youth raise N100 million? It means that those who have stolen Nigeria’s money are the ones that will continue to rule over us.”
However, he advised the need for Nigerians to start considering independent candidature if we, the people, are serious about fixing the nation.
As the country draws closer to the next general election, political parties have also started reeling out programmes and costs for expressing interests in various political positions.
The APC, for instance, pegged its presidential tickets for N100 million, the governorship was fixed at N50 million, and Senate stood at N20 million.
While expression of interest and nomination forms for the House of Representative was raised to N10 million, that of State Assemblies was fixed at N2 million.
The APC’s expression of interest forms for political aspirants is the highest among the parties.
But on April 8, the party’s national women leader Betta Edu, announced free tickets for women contesting for any political positions under the party.
On April 20, the party also reportedly gave a 50 per cent discount to youths below age 40 interested in contesting for political positions.
The presidential nomination form and expression of a Social Democratic Party (SDP) ticket was fixed at N35 million. Though it is a less popular party, the form to contest for governorship position was N16 million. The Senate, House of Representatives, and State Assemblies were N3 million, N1.7 million, and N500, 000 respectively.
As for the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the expression of interest form for a presidential post is N40 million. It is about N5 million higher than the SDP’s.
Politicians interested in the governorship position under the PDP are expected to pay N21 million before contesting. The Senate, House of Representatives and State Assembly all attracted N3.5 million, N2.5 million and N600, 000 respectively.
Some Nigerians, including Civil Society Organisations, earlier reacted to the development, especially the APC nomination form, describing the sum as massive and a mockery of the NotTooYoungToRun Campaign.
Other rival political parties, such as the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), also criticised the enormous cost. The NNPP National Publicity Secretary, Ambassador Agbo Major, shared a similar perspective with the labour.
“To impose nomination fees of N100 million for aspirants vying for President, N50 million for Governor, N20 million for Senate, N10 million for House of Representatives, and N2 million for State House of Assembly shows that APC is out to rip off its aspirants, sell its tickets to the highest bidder, encourage godfatherism and shut out patriotic and resourceful aspirants particularly women, youth and those with a disability to continue its infamous recycling of retired, tired and docile party stalwarts with no agenda for a better Nigeria,” he stated.
Justifying the rationale for independent candidature, the labour leader argued that the vote should belong to candidates, not the party, as it is not the political parties that eventually rule when sworn to office, but the candidate.
He noted that decisions over the everyday running of the public office are eventually made by the President or the governor and not the political parties.
According to him, even if the party decides to enforce its position, the decision of the elected candidates supersedes, hence, the need to push for the idea of independent candidacy.
The NULGE president further decried the country’s poverty level, deprivation, hopelessness, and banditry across the country.
He attributed some of these challenges to the oppressive powers of the state governors over the lowest ebb of government.
“If you over concentrate power into few cabals, and at the end of the day you are calling for mass oppositions, my concern is that APC should be careful….they shouldn’t feel they have arrived and above everybody,” he warned.