2015: Jonathan rejects regulation of campaign expenses
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, President Goodluck Jonathan has kicked against regulation of campaign expenses, saying it is unrealistic.
Jonathan spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday while receiving the report of the National Stakeholders’ Forum on Electoral Reform headed by former Senate President Ken Nnamani.
The forum had recommended, among others, campaign finance regulation and respect for the rule of law by political parties.
But the president challenged Nigerians to advocate a realistic and practicable law that would not be “a booby trap” for anyone.
He described election campaign as a very expensive venture in Nigeria, citing the logistics and mobilisation aspects of it.
According to him, it is not even possible to monitor campaign expenses, let alone restricting politicians to spending within a budget.
He said: “I’m a realist and I’m a practical person, and that’s why I behave differently. I don’t pretend. I believe that even the laws or even regulations must not be designed in a way that it’ll pretend. In some countries, if you’re getting funds from government, then you must set restrictions; but if you’re generating your own funds, then you’ve no restrictions.”
The president asked; “If you say a governor must not spend beyond certain amount of money when campaigning, how do you monitor? And sometimes, the figures you put are too unrealistic because if you must campaign, the media is very expensive.”
He said his commitment was informed by the condemnation of the flawed process of the 2007 elections that produced late President Umaru Yar’Adua and him.
“I used my personal experience when I came on board in 2007 as vice president, and I promised myself that if I’ve the privilege to oversee elections in Nigeria, we’d do better. In 2007, because I come from a very small state in Bayelsa State and was then the governor. Bayelsa State is totally a PDP state and didn’t see how anybody could win election outside the PDP.
“Each time one travels abroad, people ask all kinds of questions that even get one angry,” he declared.
On the establishment of an electoral offences commission, Jonathan agreed that there should be a dedicated body “so that people who commit electoral offences won’t get away with it. After elections, the matter goes to the tribunal; the only person who loses is the person who contested that election. And that’s why we continue to have that kind of impunity... That was why my committee at a time recommended this election offences commission.”