Rochas Okorocha, lawmaker representing Imo West at the Nigerian Senate has opined why his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) increased the price of its presidential forms to N100 million.
At its National Executive Committee (NEC) last Wednesday, the party announced that aspirants seeking to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who was present at the meeting, will pay the sum of N100 million to purchase their expression of interest and nomination forms.
The cost, which is more than twice greater than that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pegged at N40 million, went controversial, with many describing the exorbitant price as outrageous.
The opposition party also called for the probing of anyone who will purchase the documents. Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has already paid and will pick the forms today at the national secretariat of the ruling party in Abuja.
Giving the reason behind the extortionate cost of forms, the Senator featuring on Channels TV on Tuesday said it was an avenue to raise funds and bar unserious aspirants from wasting the time of the ruling party.
“The issue of the cost of the forms has been a little bit controversial. On the side of the public, they think it is too high. And really, everybody will think it is too high, given the salaries of the president, the governors and others,” the former Imo governor explained. “But on the side of the party, for them, it is a way to raise money: one. Two, it is a way to remove people who are not serious in the business, who might find cheap funds and decide to go for court cases to seek injunctions and what have you. I think these are the reasons.
“But, I think this is an eye-opener, going forward. I think the idea of democracy should be amended a bit in Nigeria so that we can begin to get, actually, the persons that the people want. We would have been better to say in the next political dispensation, let everyone aspiring should let the people purchase their forms.
“It looks like it is all moneybags affairs…if you can afford it, pay. That is going to throw up a lot of people who think they could just go and buy the votes, buy the people, buy the delegates, get into power and refund themselves.
“The party has a duty to run the party. The truth is that after primaries, nobody cares about the party. And as APC has litigation now, with almost N100m (judgment debts) that they owe, where will they get the money to pay? So, they think that the presidential aspirants have the capacity to mobilise resources from their friends and folks to support them; and in that case, they can make money. That is the only justifiable reason,” he added.