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Home Opinions Insight & Analysis Nigerians Languish in Poverty ahead of a Multi-Billion Naira 2023 Election
Insight & Analysis - February 17, 2023

Nigerians Languish in Poverty ahead of a Multi-Billion Naira 2023 Election

Not long ago, the BBC published an investigative report on the covert payments made by political parties in Nigeria to social media influencers to spread disinformation about their opponents before the general elections. The report revealed that influencers are paid up to N20 million to create and spread false stories about front runners, with payments made through cash, gifts, government contracts, and political appointments.

Social media has become a powerful tool for information dissemination, especially among Nigeria’s younger generation, which makes up 76.5% of newly registered voters. The amount paid and the intention behind the payment, which is disinformation, is worrying as it could cause disorder in society and disrupt the election process.

Officially, the 2015 presidential election was the most expensive in Nigeria’s history, with an estimated total expenditure of N1 trillion. The costs include logistics, secure ballot papers, personnel allowances, and other expenses, all of which contribute significantly to the overall expense of running elections. However, INEC’s lack of trust in the system is also a factor as the ballot papers are printed in currency quality and entrusted to the Central Bank of Nigeria for safekeeping, which can be expensive.

In addition to the cost of organizing elections, political parties also spend large sums of money on campaigns, primaries, and even vote buying. The lack of transparency in politics in Nigeria makes it difficult to determine the exact amount spent by political parties, but some sources report that APC and PDP spent N2.9 billion and N4.8 billion, respectively, for the 2015 polls.

Vote buying is a prevalent practice in Nigeria, with reports of presidential aspirants paying party delegates to get the party’s ticket. In the 2019 All Progressive People Congress’ primary elections, some delegates were reportedly paid anywhere from $5000 to as much as $25,000 to secure the party’s ticket. While some delegates may vote out of loyalty, others are bought, which makes the cost of politics in Nigeria significantly higher than what is officially reported.

Officially, INEC rules limit the amount of money a candidate can spend on their campaign, with presidential candidates restricted to N1bn, gubernatorial candidates to N200m, senatorial candidates to N40m, House of Representatives candidates to N10m, and state HoR candidates to N10m. However, this is far from the reality on the ground.

The cost of the 2023 election is estimated to be N305 billion, 61% higher than the 2019 general election, and it is likely to be more expensive due to the prevailing culture of vote buying, the lack of transparency, and the widespread use of disinformation. The cost of democracy in Nigeria is high, and it’s a cost that the country can ill-afford.

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