INEC AND CHALLENGES OF MONITORING POLITICAL PARTY CAMPAIGN FINANCING IN NIGERIA
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