News from Nigeria and Benin has revived debate on the monetisation of politics across the continent, as citizens especially young people discuss the exorbitant fees required to contest for the position of presidency.
In Nigeria, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) has raised the fee to stand as a candidate in its primaries from 27.5 million naira in 2015 to 45 million naira ($125,500), according to newspaper adverts seen on Wednesday.
Individuals wanting to be selected to run for a governorship post have to pay 22.5 million naira, up from 10 million naira last time round.
We want the party itself to take care of the elections so that nobody will say because he gave money to the party he wants to dictate to the party what to do.
The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has reduced its own fees from 22 million naira in 2015 to 12 million for presidential candidates, and 11 million naira to six million naira for governors.
Critics insist the sums are still significant sums in a country of more than 180 million where some 87 million live in extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Clock.
The APC has offered a half-price discount for women and the disabled, while the PDP has made forms free for female candidates, in a move designed to widen representation.
Benin’s new electoral law
Nigeria is not alone in imposing high election fees.
Lawmakers in neighbouring Benin this week voted to increase the deposit for presidential candidates to 250 million CFA francs ($441,000).
The country of 11 million people has more than 200 political parties and the increase has been seen as a way of reducing the numbers.
Léonce Houngbadji, founder of the Party for the Liberation of the People, described the new electoral law as ‘a plot against youth’ adding that ‘we will now have a Parliament of the rich and a hyper powerful president of the Republic”.ALSO READ: Benin republic adopts new electoral Code
Critics of a monetised political space
In Nigeria, the Not Too Young to Run group, which successfully campaigned for a reduction in the lower age limit for elected representatives, said the fees were still “exorbitant” and would disqualify potential candidates.
The outrageous nomination form fees is the main reason why old politicians will remain in play in Nigeria both as candidates & as godfathers.— Ndubueze (@ndgreat715) 5 septembre 2018
Kudos to the major political parties for making Nigerian politics strictly for themselves.
With nomination form fees to contest for political office going for as high as N45m ($130,000) – is politics in #Nigeria only for the rich?— Bilkisu Labaran (@bilkisulabaran) 5 septembre 2018
Debo Adeniran, of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership lobby group, said the high costs was an example of how the two main parties had “monetised the political environment”.
Clement Nwankwo, head of the Situation Room of Nigeria civil society groups that promote good governance, said the system was intended to exclude all but the wealthiest and those who had previously benefited from patronage.
But APC spokesman Yekini Nabena told AFP the amounts were a reflection of the cost of campaigning and a way of ensuring the party was not in thrall to a handful of wealthy donors.
“We want the party itself to take care of the elections so that nobody will say because he gave money to the party he wants to dictate to the party what to do,” he told AFP.
Party primaries are expected in the coming weeks, with Buhari, who in 2015 was said to have taken out a bank loan to cover his nomination costs, set to secure the APC ticket unopposed.
All eyes will instead be on the PDP, with an increasingly crowded field of hopefuls
In the infographic below, check out the different presidential nomination fees for some African countries. Just hover over the name of each country to see the amount in dollars.