By EMMANUEL AFONNE
ABUJA- A Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CeFTIW) has called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use its constitutional powers to end political corruption in the country.
Mr Umar Yakubu, Executive Director of the Centre, made the call in Abuja during an advocacy on election financing, noting that transparency in election financing would go a long way in ending political corruption.
Yakubu who frowned at the way and manner politicians throw money around during elections also urged the 18 registered political parties and their candidates to also publish sources of their election financing.
He also urged INEC to make information available to the public at the right time.
“The truth is that as a country, we have agreed that we are running a democracy and as such information should be made available to the public.
“And as a democratic nation, one of the things we have to get right is our electoral system and within the electoral system, we have to look for the candidates that can turn around the fortunes of the country economically.
“So, that is why the electoral institution of our democracy which is the hallmark, should ensure that they themselves publish information that is supposed to be in the heart of the public.
“The electoral institution should also ensure that the political parties disclose information that has to do with elections and electoral financing.
“So, what we expect out of this is for INEC to be more transparent in its finances and ensure transparency in the finances of other political parties,” Yakubu said.
According to him, the country currently runs the most expensive elections in the world and said that it is not sustainable.
“So let’s see how we can bring the cost down through efficiency and ensure that right people are in the right place.
“Based on the constitution and the Electoral Act which they are the implementers, INEC as a responsible institution supposes to disclose their own information and ensure political parties do so too,” he added.
Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), President, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) while quoting Justice Kayode Eso said political corruption was the most dangerous form of corruption.
“Justice Eso made the comment when he convicted Oba Akran, the then Minister of Local Government Affairs in the Western Region for taking money from the marketing board and spending it on politics,” he said.
According to Akinseye-George, campaign financing is the heart of Nigeria’s political corruption and the way our elections are funded is the reason our politicians are desperate.
“When people use so much money to fund political parties or political process, what do you expect?
“The first thing they want to do when they get to the office is to recoup their investment because they want to be able to continue to have money to oil their political wheel.
“So, we need to begin to ask questions and INEC must come out to tell us why politicians are spending so much money for elections especially the monies used for vote-buying.
“Why is this becoming part of our political culture? When we focus on campaign financing and the amount of money that is used to run the political system, then we may begin to get to the root of political corruption in our country.
“There must be rule of law and we expect that when the courts are approached to give orders compelling INEC and the political parties to publish their accounts, I believe we will be able to start the forward movement on the matter,” he added.
Mrs Angela Nworgu, BOT Chairman of CeFTIW who added her voice to the advocacy explained that Nigerians have confidence in candidates for election when they reveal the sources of the money they spent during elections.
“Trust reduces impunity and gradually we will begin to see changes in our electoral system and this is what the Centre is focusing on and using advocacy which is our main tool to try to bring citizens participation in governance.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was also an opportunity to unveil the portal for source of campaign funding of candidates of different political parties, ahead of the 2023 general election.
NAN also reports that officers of the Nigeria Police Force, personnel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as well as personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps participated in the programme. (NAN)