By Angela Atabo
The Electoral Hub, an advocacy group, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) anti-graft and financial institutions to monitor the 2023 campaign spendings.
The Electoral Hub, is an organ of the Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD).
Ms Princess Hamman-Obels, Director of IRIAD, Electoral Hub in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja said that the call was to ensure compliance to the law and ensure a fair playing ground for all.
Hamman-Obels said the cooperation of the anti-graft agency will ensure that election results are not determined by the amount of money a political party or a candidate spends during campaigns.
“Although money is germane in the conduct of campaigns, this does not warrant the excessive deployment and vile use of money in the electoral process thus, contravening acceptable ethical standards.
“In the 2022 Electoral Act, expenditure ceilings, a presidential candidate is now at liberty to spend up to five billion naira while governorship candidates can spend up to one billion naira.
“For the Senate and House of Representatives candidates, they can spend up to a maximum of one hundred million naira and seventy million naira respectively.
“Compliance with these regulations as well as the monitoring of all sources of funds accruing to political parties is placed on the shoulders of INEC by the constitution.
“This campaign ceiling for candidates is actually a lot for vulnerable groups like women ,youths and persons with disabilities because traditionally or socially , they do not have access to resources yet some candidates overshoot it.”
Hamman -Obels said that for a long time because of the patriarchal nature of the society ,men have been controlling resources and their “old boys” network make them access resources easily.
She said that men easily get bankrolled for electoral positionsand they also easily get God fathers to sponsore their electoral positions but women,youths and PWDs do not easily have these opportunities.
She said that the gender bill rejected by the National Assembly would have helped in addressing the issue marginalised groups.
The National Assembly, she said, should reconsider those bills to encourage the participation of women and people with disabilities.
She said that in terms of campaign finances, a lot needed to be done to ensure compliance because presently INEC seemed to need the support of multisectoral stakeholders to adress the ussue .
Hamman-Obels said that there was need to start pushing for a more holistic electoral expenses agenda where stahekgiers would take responsibility for reporting campaign funding.
She said that there was no need overburdening INEC unnecessarily adding that some of these responsibility should be thrown back to political parties and candidates.
She said that it was high time citizens and candidates alike woke up to their responsibilities with the collective interest of the nation at heart to report irregularities around campaign ceiling .
She added that nobody should actually be chased to do the right thing.
Hamman-Obels called for a holistic framework for electoral expenses and have a joint stakeholders committee juts like INEC had the Interagency Consultative Meeting on Election Security.
She said that there should also be something similar to that in terms of monitoring campaign finance In the country .
She said that the different agencies responsible for monitoring finances could come together to monitor campaign finance to a broader framework so that all the burden would not be on INEC alone.
She said that was the way to start looking at it to make it more effective and make it more possible for vulnerable groups to participate in elections where use of excessive money would not oush them out of participation.
“I think we need to start thinking along that line.
“So where you have institutions like CBN ,Bankers community ,EFCC ,NDIC among others coming together with INECn to fashion out a framework about how to monitor campaign finance it would create a level playing field for all.
“We can always learn from best practices like in Poland where bank accounts of candidates are monitored “ she said.NAN)(www.nannews.ng)