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2023 election costs: INEC, APC, PDP, and 14 other parties remain silent about financial disclosure a year later

Mar 28, 2024 | 2023 Elections | 0 comments

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and 16 political parties have yet to disclose their election spending as required by the Electoral Act 2022, a year after the 2023 general elections.

According to The Guardian, all parties except the Labour Party (LP) and African Action Congress (AAC), including the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), violate the full disclosure requirement.

INEC said more than two parties had submitted financing estimates to the umpire. However, neither the compliance list nor their estimations were released within the six-month law window.

Section 89 (3) of the Electoral Act states, “Election expenses of a political party shall be submitted to the Commission in a separate audited return within six months after the election, and such return shall be signed by the political party’s auditors and countersigned by the party chairman and supported by a sworn affidavit by signatories as to the correctness of its contents.”

Section 15 of Part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) requires the Commission to “monitor the organisation and operation of the political parties, including their finances,” “arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties, and publish a report on such examination and audit for public information.”

Section 225 (1) of the Constitution provides, “Every political party shall, at such times and in such a manner as the INEC, publish a statement of its assets and liabilities.” Under subsection (2), “Every political party shall submit to INEC a detailed annual statement and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets together with a similar statement of its expenditure in such form as the Commission may require.”

Two out of 18 political parties that participated in the previous general elections have publicly submitted their financial disclosures since March 18, 2023, according to The Guardian.

APC, PDP, APGA, ADC, SDP, NNPP, APP, and APM violated the disclosure clause.

Other parties that defaulted include Accord (A), Action Alliance (AA), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Boot Party (BP), National Rescue Movement (NRM), Young Progressive Party (YPP), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), and People’s Redemption Party (PRP.

Omoyele Sowore, the AAC presidential candidate, disclosed his campaign finances within the Electoral Act’s deadline. The law requires his party to publish the audited annual account, but it has not.

Last June, Sowore revealed his campaign income and expenditures: almost N40 million in production, N38 million in donations, and N1.8 million from personal funds.

He stated that the bank account had N90,101.21 on March 31, 2023.
Both the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, provided financial reports.

In February 2024, the Obi/Datti campaign reported receiving N595.98 million from well-meaning Nigerians and N800 million from their presidential candidate.

Aisha Yesufu, chairman of the Campaign Fundraising Team, said citizens donated N595,976,994. We received N800 million from the candidate.

On November 23, 2022, Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi (C), flanked by wife Margaret (R) and running mate Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed (L), greets supporters at Adamasingba Stadium in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria, before the 2023 Nigerian presidential election. Photo by AFP/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

We used N744,500,000 for legal fees, and we had around N28.5 million for campaign and election activities. The contender brought N800m for legal fees, she said.

However, the Labour Party leadership’s audited report proved controversial. According to the party’s embattled National Treasurer, Oluchi Oparah, N3.5 billion was raised from nomination form sales and fundraising activities before the 2023 general election. However, its national chairman, Julius Abure, said the party only received N1.3 billion. The case is in court.

APC national publicity secretary Felix Morka said he would call back after requesting time from the finance department to determine if the 2023 campaign financial reports had been released.

Debo Ologunagba, the PDP’s national publicity officer, said he was out of Abuja and could not immediately answer the queries. However, he would call back once he acquired information from the proper department.

APGA spokeswoman Mazi Ejimofor Opara did not respond to messages or calls from The Guardian.

As of press time, they had yet to answer.

According to INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s spokesperson, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, “Majority of the 18 political parties that participated in the 2023 general election have complied and submitted their Income and Expenditure Reports to INEC.”

On report access and public disclosure, he said: “The Commission decides in accordance with the law. Political party submissions become public when the Commission reviews them. The judgement will be public once made.”

The investigation indicated that parties must submit three financial reports to INEC by law: an annual report, an election donations report, and a cost report.

A party’s election donations report lists monetary and other contributions, whereas its election expenses report lists money spent by or on behalf of the party.

The election contribution report is due three months after the election results. In contrast, the election expenses report is due six months after the election.

[files] Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman

A party’s annual report must detail its assets, liabilities, and analysis of its sources of funds and expenditures for a year and be submitted by the end of March of the following year, regardless of an election.

This portion of the law requiring parties and presidential candidates to make public their financial records was also found to be violated because some spent more than the law permits for the election.

Section 88 of the Electoral Act states that “the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential election shall not exceed N5 billion”. Governorship and senatorial candidates pay N1 billion, while House of Representatives candidates pay N70 million.

On the punishment for defaulting parties, Oyekanmi said that Section 89(4) of the Electoral Act 2022 imposes a maximum fine of N1 million on political parties that violate this regulation.

Failure to submit an accurate audited return may result in a maximum penalty of N200,000 per day for any party from the time the return was due until it is submitted to the Commission.

When asked if parties are as transparent in their fiscal responsibility and accountability as parties in the UK and the US, he said, “To a large extent, political parties comply with the rules in book-keeping and accounts, going by the documents they submit to INEC. Election income and expenditure records include sworn court documents. We expect their submissions to be authentic since there are repercussions for violations, and no political party wants to break the law.

When comparing Nigeria to other countries, we should remember that each jurisdiction handles campaign money differently. The shared goal is to prevent illicit financing from influencing elections, whether from domestic or international sources. All electoral democracies must defend the ballot to bring in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, not a plutocracy for the rich, he stated.

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