Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Challenges and opportunities of campaign finance enforcement in Nigeria
Political parties have opportunity to build their capacity to comply with campaign finance provisions. INEC (particularly The Electoral Institute and EPM Department) is available to train political party financial managers on how to fill the campaign finance reporting forms. There is also BRIDGE trainings they can take advantage of. Already, UNDP Democratic Governance for Development is training political parties at Nigeria Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru in Jos. IFES has also previously collaborated with INEC to carry out trainings on PPF Manual and Handbook.
Political parties indeed owe it a duty to familiarize their members, particularly political aspirants/ candidates, with the provisions of 1999 Constitution, as amended, Electoral Act 2010, as amended and Code of Conduct for Political Parties with campaign finance provisions. The parties also have opportunity to influence their members in the National and State Assemblies to reform the political cum campaign finance regulations in a manner that will be easy for them to comply with. For instance, they may get their elected party members in the parliament to come up with a better campaign finance ceiling formula and even to restore public funding for registered political parties in Nigeria which was removed from the 2010 Electoral Act, as amended. Political parties also have opportunity to network and build synergy with other stakeholders in the electoral process such as the media, security agencies and even the electorates.
There is need to revive the Political Finance Monitoring Group established by IFES in 2006 to discuss party finance issues and blow whistles on breaches. This is a multi-stakeholder group which is inclusive of anti-corruption agencies, media, political parties, INEC, CSOs and academics. Anti-corruption agencies like Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission ( ICPC) need to work together with INEC, Financial Intelligence Unit of Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), security agencies and the judiciary to ensure prompt investigation of breaches of campaign finance provisions. Where a prima facie case is established against any political party or candidate, arrest and prosecution of masterminds of the breaches should follow swiftly.
Jide is the Executive Director of OJA Development Consult, Abuja.