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Aborisade: Public office, now opportunity to loot the treasury

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Aborisade: Public office, now opportunity to loot the treasury

Comrade Femi Aborisade, a lawyer and human rights activist, is the pioneer National Secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP)

 

The sale of nomination forms by political parties, whether the fee is small or huge, to aspirants wishing to contest public offices, is an indication that the political parties perceive being elected into public office in Nigeria is not for service but for an opportunity to loot public treasury. If occupation of public office is for selfless service, why must interested aspirants be taxed for indicating interest to serve?

Therefore both the party selling nomination forms and the aspirant purchasing the forms know that it is not a question of service; it is more a question of political entrepreneurship – a question of big business. Since it is big business (about looting public treasury), the process must be exclusive and not inclusive such that the political space would be monopolised by only the big boys in the business of looting rather than providing an opportunity for competition by genuine change seeking individuals who are usually poor financially, though they may have ideas to transform society in the interest of the downtrodden.

My advice for genuine change seeking agents is to draw the lesson that parties that commercialised nomination forms for aspirants seeking to contest public offices are not the right vehicles for change. They should get out of such parties and associate with genuine change seeking political parties or form new political parties. Similarly, we should fight to ensure the right of independent candidates to stand for elections and that contesting elections should not be limited to the platforms of political parties. In addition, the constitutional requirements for registration of political parties should be liberalised such that parties having influence in only one or few local governments or one or more states are allowed to exist without necessarily having national spread.

Unless there are such liberalised reforms in the electoral process, we would continue to have the government of looters by the looters and for the looters as opposed to the government of the people by the people and for the people. For those of them who may be considering legal option, they may succeed only if the constitutions of the individual political parties provide against sale of nomination forms for aspirants contesting election. But the corollary implication is that the constitution should be amended to provide against political parties selling nomination forms to aspirants for constitutionally backed public offices. For now, there is no such provision. What the courts have held is that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not constitutionally permitted to impose fees on candidates wishing to contest election.

The facts of the available precedent had nothing to do with political parties selling or not selling nomination forms to aspirants.

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