Prior to the February 2023 presidential election, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter requesting that all presidential candidates disclose the source of their campaign funds. 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. Transparency will help to control inappropriate influence on political candidates, maintain justice, equality, and accountability in Nigeria’s democracy,” the organization claimed in an open letter dated October 29, 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare.
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. 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.”
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.