How YOU Can Get A Cut Of The Trillions
By Ferdinard Beshel and Michael Linus McPat
The 2015 General Elections will lift the country’s economy to the conservative tune of N5 trillion, political economists and other experts on election finance as well as stakeholders in the election process have told The Dream Daily.
The N5 trillion estimate covers the funds government institutions like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, aspirants, candidates and their sponsors would spend on several key activities in relation to preparing for the polls, parties’ primaries and the elections proper. Some of these are the purchase of forms from the political parties, printing of campaign souvenirs, mobilising people to attend campaign rallies cum the logistics this requires, advertisement in the media, even outright material and cash inducement of voters.
Put in perspective, the 2015 elections will pump more money into the nation’s economy than the whole federal budget for this year, which is only N4.9 trillion, a sum that would only be spent in full if budget performance hit the 100 per cent mark, which is unrealistic. It is also more than the 2015 federal budget estimate of N4.74 trillion released by the government last August in its Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper covering the 2014 to 2016 fiscal periods.
Crunching The Numbers
Recently, Chairman, INEC, Prof. Attahiry Jega, disclosed that the commission spent N122 billion to conduct the 2011 General Elections, breaking it down to N66.3 billion for recurrent expenditure and N56.6 billion for capital expenditure.
Already, Jega has also disclosed that the country would need N92.9 billion to conduct the 2015 polls, spending N2.7 billion per state plus the Federal Capital Territory and about N1,248 per voter. INEC has about 73.5 million voters on its register. The proposal shows that INEC would spend 10 per cent less on next year’s election, compared to the 2011 exercise, if all goes to plan.
If INEC plans to spend less on the 2015 elections, the same cannot be said of aspirants and candidates for the polls. Investigation by The Dream Daily shows that a number of factors beyond the aspirants and candidates control would make them spend more than 2011. Some of these are requisite preparations in line with the elective offices they seek, inflation-induced costs and societal expectations, with many of the latter being extra-legal, now infamously known as “stomach infrastructure.”
According to a reliable source who pleaded anonymity because of his blood kinship with a serving senator, “it takes between N800 million and N1 billion to seriously challenge for a senatorial seat in the country today. My brother spent N800 million. You will need more if you are from a state where the electorate are more enlightened or if you like, more sophisticated than our own state, or if there are many strong candidates in your party and the election proper. If we take the lower end of N800 million per candidate and multiply that by the 109 seats in the Senate, we’ll have N87.2 billion for the successful senator. The losers in the contest will also spend a lot on their aspirations, not to talk of aspirants who had fallen by the way side towards the primaries and in the parties’ primaries proper. I think the race for the 109 senatorial seats alone will contribute about N300 billion to the country’s economy. There are also 360 seats in the House of Representatives. In my opinion, the contest for the National Assembly seats alone can guarantee N1 trillion for the economy.”
He continued: “A successful governorship bid will even cost more. Remember that there are three senators per state. A serious gubernatorial candidate cannot spend less than the senator in each of these three districts. I don’t think you can spend less than N3 billion on a successful run for a gubernatorial seat in this country today. So, in 2015, there will be elections in about 32 states, that is N3 billion times 32, that is N96 billion for the successful candidates. If three unsuccessful candidates spend half of that, it means the 2015 gubernatorial elections can put about N224 billion into the economy. We have not talks about the 36 state houses of assembly and the cost of getting elected into them.”
Proceeding from these extrapolations, a political economist who does not want his name in print told The Dream Daily that “a successful run for the Presidency in Nigeria today cannot gulp less than N1 trillion. If we have a three-horse race as I believe this is shaping up to be, the 2015 presidential race could contribute N3 trillion to the economy. In my view, the whole election should pump about N5 trillion into the Nigerian economy and the money is already being put in the economy by politicians, especially and all government institutions in charge of the election process.”
What Do Stakeholders In Politics Spend Money On?
“To buy forms from the political parties, print posters, T-Shirts, caps and other souvenirs, campaign expenses, including meeting delegates and voters’ demands in cash and kind, etc, etc. Some politicians even spend money on spiritualists for protection on the campaign trail,” a grassroots mobiliser and Initiator, South South People’s Forum, Nasarawa State, Lady Gladys, told The Dream Daily.
Also, Malam H. Tanko, an area council chairmanship aspirant in Gwagwalada, Abuja told The Dream Daily: “How do you convince a man who’s hungry to vote for you without wetting the ground or offering kola. Not just that, the youth, women and elders. These people must be taken care of otherwise such a politician should be prepared to fail and fail woefully. Printing of posters, banners and hiring of billboards cost money. There are other including logistics too. These youth you see running errand campaigning for us; do you think they’re volunteers? Whenever we need their services, somebody has to be paid to mobilise and coordinate them. Same goes for the women and the elders.”
Chief Executive Officer, Star Arts and Digital Printing, Ado U-Turn, opposite Secretariat Junction, Nasarawa State, Mr. Jeff Iche, took a panoramic view of election-related souvenirs that aspirants and candidates usually commission in pursuit of their aspiration. He stressed that a serious National Assembly aspirants or candidate should budget for between 100 and 200 billboards of different types, which cost of production per unit is “between N35,000 and N40,000,” excluding the cost of placement, which could be as high as N1 million per a standard billboard.
In an exclusive interview with The Dream Daily, General Manager, Independent Television (ITV), Abuja, Mr. Leo Onwordi, gave a breakdown of publicity and advertisement costs an aspirant or candidate could incur on print and electronic media, with close reference to ITV rates.
Stressing that any serious aspirant or candidate “cannot afford to ignore any media house during campaign, however small the media house is,” he concluded that parties, candidates, government agencies and non-state actors would spend billions of naira in the media sector from now till the end of the 2015 electioneering campaign.
Mrs. Milukat Onipede Lawal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Gleams Studios, Jabi Upstairs, Abuja told The Dream Daily that all aspirants and candidates need professional photography services for their campaign posters, billboards and other souvenirs.
Her words: “An aspirant would need to book at least a 30-minute photo shoot session, which cost at least N25,000 here at Gleams Studios. He or she will choose 11 soft copies that is usually saved on compact disc of flash. All photos will be created in high-resolution digital format form from which prints can be made on other surfaces like T-Shirts, caps, mugs, etc. The aspirant or candidate need to come to the studios with different outfits. We also charge N3,000 for fresh-look touch up or make up.”
Chief Executive Officer, GKDT Security Company Limited, New Water Complex, Jabi, Abuja, Otunba Toyin Ogunro, pointed out that the security sector would also receive a substantial chunk of funds or patronage for the polls.
Apart from government agencies which would need to secure the election materials and process, Ogunro added that any serious aspirant or candidate would also make private arraigment for his or her own security.
Depending on the personality, risk and scope of work involved, Ogunro disclosed that a private security firm like GKDT could charge between N100,000 and N150,000 per personnel, per day, to provide security for a candidate.
He stated that the security component of the 2015 elections will be huge and should gulp a large chunk of the funds to be spent by government agencies, political parties, their candidates and other stakeholders in the electioneering process.
Can Elections Be Made Less Expensive In Nigeria?
Certainly, answered some experts who spoke with The Dream Daily.
Acting Head of Department, Department of Political Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Yahaya Adadul, observed: “Access to power is only possible to the highest bidder in the country today. That elections are more expensive to hold or participate in implies corrupt practices and lack of credible monitoring processes. It is up to the Nigerian People to make election less expensive. Corrupt money being spent on elections should be checked by the EFCC. Candidates and parties expenses should be controlled by INEC.”
However, an academic in a private university who pleaded anonymity for himself and the institution stated: ““Politics is not cheap anywhere in the world that’s a fact we must wake up to realize. If we want democracy as a best form of government then we must be prepare to pay the price. I hate to me make this comparison; if you think education is expensive then try ignorance. Pretty much with democracy, if we keep counting the cost we won’t make head way. The question then is; should we jettison it and ask for the return of the military that we’ve send packing and rejected years ago? Your guess is as good as mine. But Nigerian expects those benefiting from the system to change the process. It won’t happen.”
Another university teacher who does not his name and that of his school in print said: “You need to understand that Nigerian politicians are extravagant and ostentatious not by nature but by the status we gave them and as long as it is so, we would continue to spend both the taxpayer and oil money just to conduct elections.
“Political offices shouldn’t be this attractive and the process must be transparent to allow those who truly want to serve to come in. It shouldn’t just be for the moneybags and anointed sons of the god-fathers as it is here.”
How Can You Make Money In The 2015 Elections?
Since it is inevitable that so much money would be spent on these elections, it is hardly the case that many Nigerians would watch this opportunity pass by them. Already many citizens are many brisk business in relation to the 2015 election. Is your profession needed in the electoral process? Do you have a special skill that politicians need to win elections? Why not assess the situation and identify how you can legitimately get a share of the trillions of Naira up for grabs in the political sector today? It is up to you to either take these opportunities that only come once every four years as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution.