Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC chairman on Sunday in Abuja described excessive use of money in politics as unhealthy and unlawful.
Jega, who made the pronouncement at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), appealed that the role of money in politics be minimised.
He told NAN that the issue of money politics was one of the reform measures INEC planned to introduce before the 2015 general elections.
``Obviously, it is unfortunate that in Nigeria there is a lot of use of money in politics.
``It is unhealthy, it is illegal and we have to do quite a lot to minimise the role of money in politics and, we in INEC, it’s is one of the reforms measures that we hope to introduce long before 2015.’’
Jega said that INEC intended to tackle extreme use of money by establishing a political monitoring department to observe party campaigns.
He said that the unit would also monitor financial contributions of individuals, organisations as well as advertorials of political parties.
He said this was to ensure full conformity with the limits that had been established by law.
He added that most countries took the issue of the use of money in politics seriously, stressing that it was imperative that Nigeria did same.
``We in INEC are committed to ensuring that by 2015 we would have even more effective mechanism in place to be able to monitor campaign financing; to be able to monitor candidates’ expenditure and to also monitor a party’s expenditure,’’ he said.
Jega told NAN that INEC currently conducted annual audit of finances of political parties, noting that parties were not disposed to the regular auditing of their accounts.
``You know, it is a constitutional responsibility and we will continue to do it. I think a few months ago, we issued the results of the last audit and we pointed out parties that were in default and so on.
``So really parties are not also serious about accountability, and we have our responsibility to keep on pushing them so that they become more transparent and more accountable in the way in which they keep their finances.’’
On politicians’ constant defection to and from their political parties, Jega said it could be seen as moral and party issues.
``But I think it is part of politics that members of a party will become aggrieved and when they are aggrieved sometimes, they think the only option available to them is to actually leave that party and move to another party.’’
He said, however, that mass movement of people from party to party was unhealthy.
The INEC chairman cited the April 2011 elections as a period of mass movement from one party to the other.
On internal party democracy, Jega said: ``There is no doubt that the level of internal party democracy in our political parties leaves much to be desired
``And we are doing our best to improve on our engagement with political parties so that we can encourage them to be more democratic in their outlook internally.’’ (NAN)