Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu; Labour Party, Peter Obi; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP),Rabiu Kwankwaso and others have been tasked to demonstrate leadership by directing their campaign councils and political parties to regularly and widely publish the sources of their campaign funding.
This was contained in an open letter by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sent to all presidential candidates ahead of the February 2023 presidential election.
In the letter dated October 29 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said transparency would help to control inappropriate influence on political candidates, ensure fairness, equality, and accountability in Nigeria’s democracy.
“We are concerned about the vulnerability of political parties to corruption. Disproportionally large donations seeking specific outcomes or preferential treatment can subvert the wider public interest. Transparency in campaign funding would improve public trust in Nigeria’s politicians and political parties, and show your commitment to prevent and combat corruption if elected. If Nigerians know where the money is coming from, they can scrutinise the details, and hold to account the candidate and party that receive it,” SERAP said.
The organisation said it would consider appropriate legal actions to hold candidates and political parties to account for any infractions of the requirements of campaign funding, as provided for by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act and international standards, even after the 2023 elections.
“SERAP urges you to sign ‘transparency pacts’ that would mandate you to disclose the identities of donors and widely publish donations and contributions including on your party website and social media platforms. Party corruption undermines the legitimacy of government, public trust and, ultimately, democracy. Opacity in campaign funding can distort the electoral competition and lead to state capture by wealthy politicians and individuals, and encourage politicians to divert public resources for political purposes.”
SERAP said transparency in campaign funding would ensure fair and open elections, address concerns about undue influence by more economically advantaged and privileged individuals, as well as prevent corruption of the electoral process.
“Political parties provide the necessary link between voters and government. No other context is as important to democracy than elections to public office. Nigerians therefore must be informed about the sources of campaign funding of those who seek their votes. SERAP also urges you to urgently invite the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor campaign funding and expenditures by your political party.”