Apart from the issue of direct and indirect primaries threatening the peace of the ruling party, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has again stirred the hornets’ nest with the proposed N55m as the cost of the nomination and expression of interest forms for the office of President.
The upward review of the nomination forms is currently generating ripples among the aspirants seeking the party’s nomination to contest the governorship, national and state assemblies seats on the party’s platform.
LEADERSHIP investigation revealed that some aspirants in the ruling have drawn a battle line with the leadership of the party, urging its National Working Committee (NWC) for a downward review of the fees, even as they threaten to leave the party if otherwise or they will dump the party over the cost of nomination and expression of interest forms.
Apart from N55m as the cost of the nomination and expression of interest forms for the office of President, the party’s NWC also proposed N1.1m for the state houses of assembly elections, while for the House of Representatives’ aspirants are to pay N3.8m per form.
For the Senate, APC aspirants will pay N8.5m, while Governorship aspirants are to pay N22.5m each to contest the ticket.
Predictably, the pronouncement hit a raw nerve of the party members including President Muhammadu Buhari, who expressed his reservation about the cost of the forms.
Apart from the president, some members of the party also raised a dissenting voice against the decision of the party, noting that the development showed the people of the country how costly democracy has become in Nigeria.
It was gathered that some of the aspirants who believe that the decision of the NWC of the party would also fuel corruption that the present administration prides itself to be fighting are currently planning to abandon the party if its leaders failed to reduce the price.
But the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, had told the media that the National Executive Committee (NEC) had told the NWC to review the cost of the nomination forms downward.
Lalong, responding to the question on the high cost of nomination forms said: “We debated the cost of nomination and left it to the National Working Committee to take into consideration some of the views expressed and come out with a reasonable figure and any figure they bring out will be accepted and we don’t need to come back to NEC to ratify it.”
However, one of the presidential aspirants of the party, Chief Charles Udeogaranya, said he is considering leaving the party due to the N55m nomination fee stipulated by the party.
Udeogaranya said, “the Nigerian president earns about N1.75 million as basic salary and to apply for this same job under my political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, is proposing N55 million nomination fee.
“If the intention is to exclude many from vying, then the opportunity cost of the exclusion will surely tell on the party when the party will need them most in the game of numbers.
“For every aspirant that leaves a party, he or she leaves with his or her supporters and I believe that the party has suffered enough defections and must do everything possible to steer clear from this nomination fees storm.
“I urge the party to reduce the nomination fees below the electoral bill recommendations and keep all fees under single digit, N9 million downwards or I may leave APC in the pursuit for a better Nigeria.”
It was also learnt that members of the Not-to-Young-to-Run in APC are currently planning to stage a protest against the high cost of nomination forms.
The Not-to-Young-to-Run group within the party, who believed that the high cost of the nomination forms was another method to keep the youths from contesting elective positions, wondered how youths can afford N1.1 million to purchase the State House of Assembly forms, not to talk of federal legislature tickets.