Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has turned its attention to campaign spending by political parties and their candidates.
The electoral body affirmed that it was working in synergy with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies to whip into line politicians and political parties who may want to breach the laws guiding campaign funding and spending.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that the maximum expenditure by presidential candidates is N1 billion while governorship candidate cannot spend more than N200 million.
Also, senatorial and House of Representatives candidates are not supposed to spend beyond N40 million and N20 million respectively.
INEC has disclosed that its officials are already working in all its offices in the country and at its headquarters in Abuja to monitor the spending activities of candidates and will apply sanctions on any candidate that violates the electoral act on campaign spending.
“Section 91 of the Electoral Act made these clear provisions,” INEC chairman’s chief press secretary, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said while responding to inquiries about their powers to monitor campaign spending.
According to Oyekanmi, there are procedures that have already been adopted by INEC, which are derived from the electoral act.
“The commission is always monitoring the activities of all political parties,” he said, noting that INEC has its established mechanisms for conducting various activities under its purview, including monitoring campaign spending.
“There is a Department of Election and Party Monitoring. It is their primary responsibility to carry out this activity. And as you know, INEC has offices and staff in all states and local government areas of the country. There are also additional measures that the commission can employ to do the needful when the need arises,” Oyekanmi added.
Explaining that the procedures are guided by the provisions of the extant laws, he however stated that INEC is not limited to the monitoring of campaign expenses alone, which in any case, he said, falls under the overall election expenses.
“Section 225 of the 1979 Constitution (as amended), for instance, makes it compulsory for political parties to submit their Statements of Assets and Liabilities at such times and in such manner as the Independent National Electoral Commission may require,” the INEC chairman’s spokesman said.
According to him, Section 86 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) is also clear about the powers of the commission to keep records of all activities of all registered political parties.
“The maximum amount of money that a presidential candidate can incur as election expenses is N1 billion,” Oyekanmi said.
He continued: “A governorship candidate cannot spend more than N200 million while the maximum amount for a Senatorial or Federal House of Representatives candidate is N40 million and N20 million respectively.
“Section 91 of the Electoral Act made these clear provisions and the procedures adopted by INEC are derived there from.
“The law also makes it clear that no individual, or any other entity for that matter, shall donate more than N1 million to any candidate. The law prescribes stiff penalties for any breach,” the spokesman added while referring to third party campaign spending.
Oyekanmi assured Nigerians that the commission was already collaborating with the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies to tackle this menace.
“The synergy was also visible during Ekiti and Osun governorship elections,” Oyekanmi pointed out.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, had earlier said that the commission had set its sights on campaign funds, disclosing that all bank transactions would be monitored and suspicious transactions investigated.
Magu, who revealed this recently during an interactive section in Abuja, cautioned politicians against reckless spending and bribery, stressing that the EFCC would partner with INEC to address the rising cases of vote-buying.
“We will bring banks and other collaborators to book. We will monitor how monies are withdrawn from the banks. We will start this from a month or two from the general elections, for unusual withdrawal of cash.” he had said
Atiku Distances Self From Grants In His Name
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday distanced himself from financial grants allegedly being sponsored by him.
A statement by his campaign organisation, Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCO), noted: “Our attention has been brought to a scheme whereby innocent hardworking Nigerians are being asked to buy a form for a sum of N500 in order for them to be beneficiaries of a financial grant allegedly being sponsored by Atiku Abubakar.
“We want to put it on record that neither the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, nor the campaign gave any approval to this scheme or any other one like it.
“We are aware that a great number of Nigerians are passing through rough patches as millions of people have slipped into the poverty conveyor belt as a result of the bad socio-economic policies of the current administration since 2015.
“Jobs are being lost in quantum scale, businesses are folding up, foreign investors are afraid to bring in new capital for investments and the cost of living has ballooned to skyrocket proportion. The immediate consequence of all these is that the Nigerian has been laid prostrate for fleecing, out of the desperate bid to burrow their way out of financial incapacitation.
“We therefore urge hardworking Nigerians not to fall victim of these fraudulent schemes and remind our compatriots, once again, that the election next year is about a choice between the current economic meltdown and a fresh opportunity to create more jobs for our people and get Nigeria working again.”
Meanwhile, former minister of health and member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Prof ABC Nwosu, has told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the party’s Campaign Council would be unveiled in the next 10 days.
Nwosu noted that the theme of the campaign document, “Let’s Get Nigeria Working Again”, was supposed to sensitise Nigerians to that type of country Nigerians expect and the reaction of Nigerians to it.
He said: “The Council is being finalised. The PDP intends to run a campaign with content because it has a vision, so the operating phrase is: “campaign with content, victory with vision.”
“And we are going to run a kind of campaign that will not be focusing on APC; it’s going to be focusing on Nigeria and the future.
“In about a week or so, it will take off, maybe in the next 10 days. We are now working on it; some of us are involved in it. What people call campaign is hiring people, setting up canopies, going to places, making public speeches; but the PDP will run a slightly different type of campaign that will penetrate grassroots, not road shows. It is to perfect the document that is holding us (from starting).”
The PDP chieftain also commented on Atiku’s vision. “The vision of Atiku, the acronym is called J-O-B-S and it is going to be mainly jobs. It has all kinds of components but I am not going to jump the gun but Atiku’s main document is called J-O-B-S. Where J stands for something, O stands for something, B stands for something, but when pronounce all of it, it is J.O.B.S,” Nwosu explained.
He further stated that uniting the country is part of Atiku’s vision, even as he noted that the country is more divided now than ever before.
“No matter what you do, it is by everybody having a stake in the country that all hands can be together in pushing the country forward. It cannot be done by some people feeling that the country does not belong to them and others feeling that the country is theirs,” he said.
Nwosu also assured that the PDP presidential candidate, if he wins election, would not derail from his campaign promises, especially on the issue of restructuring.
He said, “So, I think that going back on the promises is out of question. The one that can interest you most is the one on restructuring. You can take it to the bank that once PDP wins, in its first year in office (he will initiate it).
“Already people are working on an executive bill on restructuring because people don’t understand restructuring; it’s a very simple thing”.