Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has spent the sum of N22.5m to purchase the nomination and expression of interest forms of the All Progressives Congress ahead of the governorship primary which holds on August 29, 2019.
Investigations showed that the sum is almost equivalent to the three-year salary and allowances of a governor which is N23.3m. According to the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, a governor’s basic salary is N185, 308.75 while he is entitled to a hardship allowance of N92, 654.37 and a consistency allowance of N370, 617.50 bringing the total monthly package to N648, 580.62 or N7.7m a year. The total salary and allowances earned by a governor in three years is N23.3m. Incidentally, Kogi State is reported to be the most affected in the country as regards unpaid salaries and pensions. The National Union of Local Government Employees had also named Kogi as the biggest defaulter of unpaid salaries and pensions while the Nigeria Labour Congress claims the state owes between eight to 38 months of unpaid salaries and pensions, a claim the state government has denied.
The high cost of nomination and expression of interest forms by the two main parties in the country, the – APC and the Peoples Democratic Party – has been a source of controversy in recent time. The APC had pegged the price of its Presidential forms at N45m last year. President Muhammadu Buhari, who lamented the high cost of the forms, claimed that a group, Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network, bought them for him. The PDP’s Presidential forms, however, were much lower than those of the APC. APC governors who bought the forms at N22.5m last year include: Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State; his Katsina State counterpart, Bello Masari; Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State. Others include: Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State; his Niger State counterpart, San Bello; Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Badaru; and Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State and Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa State who both failed to get re-elected
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had lamented the high cost of forms, insisting that it was immoral and illegal. Falana said political parties should try to generate funds by ensuring that all members paid monthly dues. He added, “It is illegal and prohibitive to collect nomination forms. When you do that, you are excluding people from participating in the democratic process. In 2003, INEC attempted to collect money for nomination forms. The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi led us to court and the court held that it was illegal and unconstitutional to collect nomination forms, after we had dragged not former than seven to eight state governments to court over money for nomination forms for LG elections. “The TMG may wish to put these cases together for people to know their rights. By the way, what is a nomination form? A sheet of paper! What is embarrassing for some of us is that President Muhammadu Buhari complained that he was asked to pay N27m in 2015 for his own nomination form and had to take a loan to raise the money. “Now that Buhari is the President of Nigeria and leader of the ruling party (APC), what has happened? I think TMG will also want to take this up, especially the legality of nomination forms so that you can open the democratic space for people to contest and participate in the electoral process.”