“We still live in a country where people live very opulent lifestyles, make legitimate money”
The statement above is a direct quote from the spokesperson of the APC, Felix Morka, during an interview on Channels Tv, while defending the ruling party’s decision to peg presidential nomination forms at N100million, a move that has elicited criticisms from the public.
Where did Mr Morka get the information that Nigerians live a very opulent lifestyle? Perhaps, he confuses the Nigerian population with his fellow political elites, who unarguably live very opulent lifestyles. But the glaring disparity in the lifestyles of the political elites and the average Nigerian is on full display every day. While the average Nigerian strives to put food on the table and fights the effects of ever-rising inflation on their everyday living, the political elites might find it hard to relate to the struggle.
In 2018, Nigeria ranked 157th among countries fighting against inequality on the UNDP’s human development index. Meaning that inequality in Nigeria is widening, with only about 17percent of Nigerian workers holding jobs able to lift them out of poverty. Also worth-mentioning is that Nigerians have had to deal with double digit inflation that has impacted negatively on consumer spending and made it difficult for business to hire more workers.
Felix Morka may think he has offered a tenable excuse for the exorbitant amount for the APC’s nomination forms but he hasn’t. Even though his friends and colleagues may live very opulent lifestyles, most Nigerians do not. In 2019, a report published by the NBS on inequality in Nigeria stated that 4 in 10 Nigerians live in poverty and according to a recent poverty assessment report by the World bank, 42.6percent of Nigerians will live in poverty come 2022. That means a whopping 95.1million Nigerians will be trapped in poverty.
What Felix also showed in that interview, however, is the complete detachment of the political elite from the struggles of everyday Nigerians they have sworn to serve. Society has also enabled this as we shield and prevent political officeholders and their aides from experiencing the very problems we elect them to solve; they have outriders to avoid traffic; they have allowances to take care of medical needs abroad. How then do they solve problems they don’t face?
In the same interview, I quote Mr Morka as saying: “APC isn’t for the rich.” If APC isn’t for the rich, who then is supposed to afford N100million for a presidential form? By pegging the presidential nomination form at N100million, the APC has admitted two things, that they have instituted gatekeeping into the political arena, making sure only they and their cronies who have fed fat from Nigeria’s treasury can compete. They are also inadvertently admitting that they have mishandled the economy.
A quick trip down memory lane to 2015 when nomination forms were N27.5million and 3yrs ago in 2019 when nomination forms were N45million only confirms the poor handling of the economy, showing the effect of inflation and currency devaluation under the ruling party.
The question now is, after spending a whopping N100million on a nomination form, besides campaign expenses, will that candidate seek to recoup his investment if he wins or will he focus on serving the people? Will he be beholden to his sponsors or will he put in place policies to make the lives of Nigerians better? For a poor country like Nigeria, the cost of elections is too expensive.