Civil society organization, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the 18 presidential candidates contesting the 2023 election to regularly and widely publish the sources of their campaign funding.
SERAP, which made the demand in an open letter it wrote to all the candidates, said this would demonstrate leadership, transparency and accountability if they direct their campaign councils and political parties to publish the sources.
The group in the letter signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP insisted that it is concerned about the vulnerability of political parties to corruption because disproportionately large donations seeking specific outcomes or preferential treatment can subvert the wider public interest.
The presidential candidates are Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP); Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC); Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP); Mr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Professor Peter Umeadi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
Others are Prince Malik Ado-Ibrahim of the Young Progressive Party (YPP); Omoyele Sowore of the Africa Action Congress (AAC); Prince Adewole Adebayo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP); Mr Kola Abiola of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP); Professor Christopher Imumulen of the Accord Party (AP); Dumebi Kachikwu of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Yusuf Mamman Dan Talle of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
SERAP said it would consider appropriate legal actions to hold the candidates and their political party to account for any infractions of the requirements of campaign funding, as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution 1999, the Electoral Act and international standards, even after the 2023 elections.
It also asked the candidates to sign ‘transparency pacts’ that would mandate them to disclose the identities of donors and widely publish donations and contributions including on their party website and social media platforms.
SERAP also urged them to urgently invite the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor campaign funding and expenditures by their political party.
SERAP maintained that, “Transparency would help to control inappropriate influence on political candidates, and ensure fairness, equality, and accountability in Nigeria’s democracy.”
The group added that transparency in campaign funding would improve public trust in Nigeria’s politicians and political parties and show their commitment to prevent and combat corruption if elected.
It further noted that if Nigerians know where the money is coming from, they can scrutinise the details, and hold to account the candidate and party that receive the funds.
SERAP stated, “party corruption undermines the legitimacy of government, public trust and, ultimately, democracy.
“Opacity in campaign funding can distort the electoral competition and lead to state capture by wealthy politicians and individuals, and encourage politicians to divert public resources for political purposes.
“Transparency in campaign funding would ensure fair and open elections and address concerns about undue influence by the more economically advantaged and privileged individuals, as well as prevent corruption of the electoral process.
“Political parties provide the necessary link between voters and government. No other context is as important to democracy as elections to public office. Nigerians therefore must be informed about the sources of campaign funding of those who seek their votes.’’
According to SERAP, the UN Convention against corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligates states parties to enhance transparency in the funding of candidates for elected public office and where applicable, the funding of political parties.