By Adedapo Adesanya
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to presidential candidates to publish the source of their campaign funding ahead of the February 2023 presidential election.
The body urged them to demonstrate leadership by directing their “campaign councils and political parties to regularly and widely publish the sources of their campaign funding.”
SERAP said: “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.”
In the open letter dated October 29, 2022, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Transparency would help to control inappropriate influence on political candidates, ensure fairness, equality, and accountability in Nigeria’s democracy.”
SERAP also said, “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.”
According to SERAP, “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 would consider appropriate legal actions to hold you and your political party 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 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.
“Transparency in campaign funding would ensure fair and open elections and address concerns about undue influence by the 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.
“The UN Convention against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party, obligates states parties to enhance transparency in the funding of candidates for elected public office and, where applicable, the funding of political parties.
“Similarly, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which Nigeria has also ratified requires states parties to incorporate the principle of transparency into the funding of political parties.
“Sections 225 and 226 of the Nigerian Constitution and Sections 86, 87 and 90 of the Electoral Act 2022 demonstrate the importance of transparency and accountability in party and campaign finances and why political parties must be proactive in disclosing the sources of their donations and contributions, and how they spend the funds they receive.
“Please let us know if you and your political party are willing to commit to the issues outlined in this letter,” the letter read in part.
Presidential candidates for Nigeria’s general elections in 2023 include Mr Atiku Abubakar of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP); Mr Bola Tinubu of All Progressive Congress (APC); Mr Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP); Mr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); and Mr Peter Umeadi of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
Others include Mr Malik Ado-Ibrahim of the Young Progressive Party (YPP); Mr Omoyele Sowore of Africa Action Congress (AAC); Mr Adewole Adebayo of Social Democratic Party (SDP); Mr Kola Abiola of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP); Mr Christopher Imumulen of Accord Party (AP); Mr Dumebi Kachikwu of African Democratic Congress (ADC); and Mr Yusuf Mamman Dan Talle of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) among others.
Aminu Adamu Lands in Prison for Insulting Aisha Buhari
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A student of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Mr Aminu Adamu, has been remanded in prison for allegedly ‘insulting’ the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs Aisha Buhari.
A few days ago, news filtered in that Mr Adamu was kidnapped by some security officials to Aso Rock, Abuja, over his post on Twitter that the President’s wife was feeding fat on the taxes paid by the poor masses.
This did not go down well with the First Lady, and the student, who is reportedly due to write his final year exams next week, was taken away from his campus and allegedly tortured.
This action angered many Nigerians, who asked Mrs Buhari to release the man or charge him in court.
On Tuesday, the student was charged to court by the police, and he was remanded in the Suleja correctional facility in Niger State, pending when his bail application would be heard next Wednesday.
According to his lawyer, Mr C.K. Agu, the student was arraigned before a court sitting in Abuja, but he pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him.
“Even in the court session yesterday, we notified the judge about the efforts made to have him released on bail, but we did not receive any reply from the police.
“We applied to the court to release the student on bail on health grounds and the fact that he will sit for the exam on December 5.
“The court has ordered the police to provide the bail application before it for consideration between Tuesday and Wednesday,” Mr Agu informed BBC Hausa Service.
On June 9, 2022, Mr Adamu posted a picture of Mrs Aisha Buhari at the presidential primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja held two days earlier and wrote in the Hausa language, “Su mama anchi kudin talkawa ankoshi,” which loosely means “Mama is feeding fat on poor people’s money.”
House of Reps Probes Incessant Attacks on INEC Offices
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The House of Representatives has condemned the incessant attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
At the plenary on Wednesday, the green chamber of the National Assembly said the actions of the arsonists could put the nation’s democracy under threat.
On November 10, 2022, an INEC building in the Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State was burned, with over 65,000 uncollected PVCs destroyed by the arsonists. A similar incident happened in Osun State and a few days ago, the office of the electoral body was attacked in Ebonyi State.
It was gathered that since 2019, about 42 attacks have been carried out on INEC offices in 14 states and to the House of Reps, this is worrisome.
In order to curb this, the parliament has set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the incessant razing of the offices of INEC within three weeks and produce a report of its findings.
At the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, the House urged the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and other security agencies to liaise with the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minster of Justice in bringing the perpetrators to book.
The decision to probe the matter followed a motion on notice moved by a lawmaker, Mr Olarewaju Ibrahim Kunle.
According to him, the attackers destroyed the main building of INEC in Ogun State earlier this month and other facilities such as 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, eight electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
The lawmaker said on the same day, arsonists and thugs set ablaze the INEC building at Oke Iresi, Ede South Local Government of Osun State.
He warned that if these systematically orchestrated attacks on personnel and facilities of the agency are not checked, the 2023 general elections could be disrupted.
Mr Kunle appealed to his colleagues to take urgent action to protect democracy in Nigeria.
His appeal was welcomed, with the parliament calling on “politicians and stakeholders to admonish their supporters to refrain from attacks and violence before or during the 2023 elections.”
Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Unveils Platform for Youth to Explore Business Prowess
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An initiative to give an opportunity to youth in the country to explore their creativity and business prowess has been introduced by Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited.
The platform known as FUZE talent hunt will employ a holistic approach to youth empowerment and feature four categories across music, dance, fashion and technology, a statement from the leading pension fund administrator (based on assets under management) said.
According to the subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, the first-of-its-kind talent hunt aims to promote indigenous talents.
The chief executive of Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers, Mr Olumide Oyetan, explained that the project was to the benefit of Nigerian society, adding that as a future-ready organisation, Stanbic IBTC valued talent, creativity and innovation and created the platform to shine the spotlight on youngsters and provide the necessary support they require to succeed, regardless of their chosen sphere of influence or industry.
He stated that youth empowerment had become increasingly essential with the heightened unemployment rate declared by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) at over 33 per cent.
On her part, an Executive Director at Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers, Ms Nike Bajomo, disclosed that the “primary goal of the FUZE Talent hunt is to create a platform for Nigeria’s talented youth to engage and learn from other youths while also gaining access to funds and best-in-class mentoring to support the actualisation of their dreams.”
She urged young Nigerians to participate in the event, stating that the audition application is free, and the public would be relied upon to vote for their preferred candidate, who would be showcased at the grand finale in December 2022.
“FUZE is open to all Nigerians between the ages 18 and 35 years. To participate, you can download the Stanbic IBTC Events App on either the android or iOS store, register and upload an audition video,” she said.
It was disclosed that the winners of the FUZE Talent Hunt would be unveiled at the FUZE Festival slated for December 21, 2022, and in addition to the chance to win N32 million, contestants will gain recognition in the industry and winners will receive mentorship to support their careers.
“Around the world today, young Nigerians are making a statement on the global scene, putting their names and communities on the roadmap to greatness.
“The average young Nigerian is bursting with talent and potential waiting to be harnessed, and we are here to give them the support they need to soar high. After all, Nigeria is our home, and we drive her growth,” the chief executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Mr Demola Sogunle, said.
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