The role of money is germane to the survival of political parties and the conduct of their campaigns during electioneering periods. In fact, electoral processes in liberal democracies cannot end successfully bereft of requisite finances. However, this does not warrant the excessive deployment and vile use of money in the electoral process thus, contravening acceptable ethical standards. This is why in all democratic climes, there exist rules that guide against illicit acquisition and utilization of funds by political parties in financing their activities. The Nigerian democratic scenario is not different from this general norm as there are electoral laws that parties should observe in their quest to obtain finances to execute their programmes. These laws also specify penalties the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) can use in punishing erring political parties. In the build-up to the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, did the political parties adhere to existing laws while generating funds? Did the INEC adequately monitor how the political parties expend money during their campaigns? This research work examines and attempts to answer these questions by qualitatively analyzing the conduct of political parties with regards to their campaign funds before the 2015 polls. It assesses INEC’s efforts at monitoring their finances and the obstacles hampering the process in Nigeria and proffers solutions to the hydra-headed problem of monitoring the finances of political parties in the country.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Democracy is a system in which the government is controlled by the people, and in which people are considered equals in the exercise of that control. However, unequal access to political finance contributes to an uneven political playing field. Campaign financing has been a major concern in Nigeria. Significant and unregulated campaign financing often create an uneven playing field in election contest. Large sums of money give certain parties and/or candidates undue advantage over others. Very often the candidates with the most money always win the election or party nomination process. Wide discrepancies in levels of funding between parties and candidates constrains opportunities for political competition and tend to disenfranchise challengers.
Most often, the uneven playing field results from the fact that the ruling party or the incumbent candidate control political apparatus and uses it to its own advantage and to the disadvantages of challengers. The financial requirements for entry to electoral competition appear to be getting higher and higher, resulting in political exclusion of those who cannot afford the cost. Another concern has been that elected officials are becoming more accountable to those who finance their campaigns than to their constituents. Large corporate or single donor funding for parties and candidates dominates political decisions and political corruption is a national problem, posing a threat to the Nigerian economic growth, democracy, and the stability of the country. Nearly all major financial and corruption scandals in recent times have been linked to campaign and political financing.
The rapid growth of campaign expenditure in many countries has exacerbated this problem. The huge amounts of money involved in some election campaigns makes it impossible for those without access to large private funds to compete on the same level as those who are well funded. There is no doubt that political parties need access to funds in order to play their part in the political process. At the same time, the role of money in politics is arguably the biggest threat to democracy worldwide today. This threat is clear across all continents—from huge corporate campaign donations in the United States and drug money seeping into politics in Latin America, to corruption scandals throughout Africa and Europe. Evidence shows that large portions of the electorate around the world are left with the perception that their politicians are more concerned about money than about representing citizens’ interests.
In Nigeria today, sponsorship of a political party or candidate is effectively a business investment, which the investor must recoup the moment his candidate gets into public office. The very peculiar nature of Nigeria’s socioeconomic environment characterized by hunger and literacy make the electors and indeed government agencies susceptible to manipulation by corrupt politicians who take advantage of inadequate electoral laws which creates a leeway to unlimited access to political finance sufficient to destroy the electoral process.
How political parties finance their campaigns is critical in any democratic election. Researchers at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), University of Oxford, U.K. investigated how political parties in Nigeria finance their campaigns. The most important question was to what extent campaign finance determines electoral victory. The key results are: Candidates invest large amounts of their private savings to contend in the elections. This means that only individuals willing to invest large amounts of money become candidates. Money distorts the candidate selection process within parties and largely influences who wins the elections. Electoral laws governing how parties should secure and spend their funds are ineffective as there is a lack of knowledge about them. As a result such laws have limited enforceability Okunade et al (2009).
1.2 Statement of the problem
Nigeria’s political history since independence from Britain in 1960 has been a cycle of authoritarian military regimes with episodic interregna of civilian governments. Reinter politics in Nigeria has been characterized over the years by the dominance of ‘electoral machines’ controlled by political entrepreneurs comprising largely of wealthy former military officers and their civilian business Cronies.
The major political parties in Nigerian politics today are little more than grand agglomerations of the respective electoral ‘machines’ of the leading political financiers. Many Nigerian politicians are ‘sponsored’ by local and regional power brokers cum political entrepreneurs who finance their campaigns for public office. The ‘sponsorship’ is effectively a business transaction in which the patron recovers the ‘investment’ in the form of public works and procurement contracts, prebendal appointments of cronies to public offices and other forms of prebendal activity by the ‘client’ politician on assuming public office. In some cases where the patron and client failed to define with sufficient precision, the dimensions of the return on investment or the client balks at delivering per the agreed terms, the fall out has led to mass violence and political destabilization.
Political party finance has been identified as a source of corruption in several countries. Political finance laws and regulation, through which political parties and candidates for political office declare their funding sources, are among the main instruments. Recent history has witnessed the pooling together of resources all over the world into a network of global awareness against unregulated use of money in politics. This Research is part of the debate and will attempt to concisely examine different types of political party financing in Nigeria, highlight the role of INEC and inadequacies that are inherent and proffer suggestions on the way forward.
- Objectives of the study
The main objective of this study is to examine the role of Inec and challenges of monitoring political party campaign financing in Nigeria .The study also has the following specific objectives:
- To examine the sources of funds for political financing.
- Highlight the role of INEC in monitoring political campaign financing.
- Examine political laws and finance regulations available to political parties in Nigeria.
- Highlight the challenges faced by INEC and other regulatory bodies in monitoring political campaign financing
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions will be addressed in the course of this study:
- Has INEC undertaken an examination and audit of the accounts of the political parties?
- Do all political parties have records of all contributions to their campaign funds?
- What steps have been taken to sanction corporate bodies that contributed to the campaign funds of political parties in total disregard of the provisions of section 38 (2) of the company and Allied matters Act (1990), which prohibits donations or gifts of any of its property or funds to a political party or association.
- How has political financing impacted on political parties choice of candidates for elections?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The following hypotheses has been developed and would be tested in the course of this study:
Ho: Monitoring of political party campaign financing in Nigeria does not have any significant challenge.
Hi: Monitoring political party campaign financing in Nigeria has very significant challenges.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is necessitated by the urge and the need for the research, reader and organizations in general to understand the role of Inec and challenges of monitoring political party campaign financing in Nigeria.
The following are the significance of study to the researcher:
- To serve as a reference materials for students who will wish to conduct similar studies on this topic.
- To serve as guide to corporate individuals, organization in furtherance to their research on the subject matter.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study is restricted to the role of Inec and challenges of monitoring political party campaign financing strictly in Nigeria.
- Definition of Terms
Campaign finance: This refers to all funds raised in order to promote candidates, political parties, or policies in elections, referendums, initiatives, party activities, and party organizations. The funds could also detract from the opponents of the above.
Political Party: This is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.
Political campaign: This is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided.