Mike Ozekhome, human rights lawyer, says the All Progressives Congress (APC) is monetising democracy.
On Wednesday, the party released its primary election timetable ahead of the 2023 elections, after a meeting of its national executive committee (NEC).
The party also announced the fees for the nomination forms — presidential hopefuls are expected to pay N100 million, while those for governorship will pay N50 million.
The price of nomination form for state house of assembly was pegged at N2 million, the house of representatives is N10 million, and that for the senate is N20 million.
The cost of the nomination forms has elicited varied reactions on social media platforms, with some persons describing the fees as “exorbitant” in the light of current economic realities.
In a statement on Thursday, Ozekhome described the party’s decision as a “mockery of democracy”.
The human rights lawyer said most of the hopefuls, including political bigwigs should be unable to purchase the forms legitimately given their income.
Even more concerning, he said, is the fact that the APC prides itself on being a party that opposes corruption.
“The vulgarity of this exercise lies not just in the abominable fee prescribed, but more in the party’s pretentious mantra of fighting corruption, using a well orchestrated and carefully oiled Hitler’s Goebel’s propagandist machinery of dubious pedigree,” he said
“President Muhammed Buhari and the APC have, by this singular act, exhibited a very odious and unpleasant example of how not to fight corruption.
“They have managed to convince Nigerians that politics is indeed the art of grand deception, double-dealing, duplicity, beguilement, sham and self contradiction.”
He criticised the president for supporting the N100 million sum despite his complaint in 2015 when a N27.5 million levy was imposed on hopefuls for the presidential nomination forms.
“With the new amended Electoral Act of 2022 fixing N5 billion limit for presidential campaign as against the earlier N1billion under the 2010 Electoral Act, as amended, Nigeria’s politics and democracy have been completely monetarized with a swing towards anti-people capitalist mercantilism,” he said.
“Buhari and the APC must tell us where they hope that Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, whose present annual salary is N12.126 million as recommended by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission set up under section 32(d) of part 1 of the third schedule to the 1999 Constitution, will Obtain 100 million from, when he would require 99 months (eight years and three months) to earn the 100 million price for the nomination form.
“It will take President Buhari himself whose salary is #14.05m 84 months (7 years) to get #100m.
“They must explain to Nigerians where aspirants like Dr Chris Ngige and Rotimi Amaechi who are ministers with an annual salary of #2, 026, 400 (#168,867 per month) will get 100 million for a presidential form, when it will take them nearly 50 years to earn 100 million.
“Let Buhari and the APC explain to Nigerians how Kayode Fayemi (Ondo State Governor), Yahaya Bello (Kogi State Governor), David Umahi (Ebonyi State Governor) and Rochas Okorocha (ex Imo state governor), whose salary per annum is #2, 223, 705, will cough out 100 million when it will take each of them 45 years to earn 100 million. Where will non-wealthy members of the APC, like Gbenga Hashim Olawepo get such money from?
“This APC party and president Buhari must tell Nigerians where Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and former Senate president Dr Ken Nnamani would fetch #100m from, when their salary as Senators was and is #750,000 per month (aside humongous allowances). It would take Kalu and Nnamani 135 years to earn 100 million.
Ozekhome said the “exorbitant sum is a direct invitation to bare-faced thievery and political brigandage when these aspirants eventually win elections and emerge leaders”.
He said the price tag constitutes “direct and brazen discrimination against other pauperized Nigerian members of the APC party, especially the youths and women, contrary to section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution”.
“The APC is now rabidly promoting plutocracy (government of the wealthy); gerontocracy (government of the oldest members of the society); and oligarchy (government of a select few),” he added.