Nigeria’s two main political parties are asking election hopefuls to pay huge fees for the chance to stand at next year’s general election, in a move criticised as favouring the rich and well-connected.
At the last nationwide vote in 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of then-president Goodluck Jonathan charged 22 million naira per nomination form.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) of the eventual winner Muhammadu Buhari asked for 27.5 million naira just to stand in the party’s presidential primary.
Now, as both parties prepare for polling in February next year, the APC wants an eye-watering 45 million naira ($125,500, 108,000 euros) per presidential primary candidate, according to newspaper adverts 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.
The PDP has reduced the cost of its presidential candidate forms to 12 million naira and the selection for a governorship from 11 million naira to six million naira, still significant sums.
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.
But 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.
It claimed the main parties had reneged on a promise to cap the cost of nomination forms for all elected posts.
Kassim Afegbua, former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida’s spokesman, wrote in the New Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday that the process should be more affordable.
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”.
The system favoured the wealthy and fostered cronyism and corruption, as sponsors who often pay for a candidate’s forms expect pay-back once they are in power, he added.
Buhari was elected partly on a platform to tackle endemic corruption in government.
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 including former vice-president Atiku Abubakar and Senate leader Bukola Saraki.