Everything in life comes with a price tag — especially elections in Nigeria. It’s very expensive to run election campaigns and you may have to beg people for money. It’s why crowdfunding campaigns are a common sight during elections.
The All Progressives’ Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP) recently launched donation websites for their loyal stans to send them urgent ₦2k. The APC has gone as far as setting a target of ₦5 billion for donations while the LP’s diaspora gang set a target of $150 million which is more than ₦66 billion. Those are some pretty hefty funds.
Nigerians have already expressed their concerns over these parties’ crowdfunding tactics and accused the APC of using the app as a disguise to collect funds from state governors. Critics also accused the LP of the illegal use of the Nigerian diaspora to raise funds.
With all this going on, it makes one wonder — are there any laws around political crowdfunding during elections? Or are the complaints for nothing? Let’s find out.
What does the law say about campaign funding?
In February 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Act of 2022 which had quite a lot to say about campaign funding. Some of them are:
- Political parties aren’t allowed to hold any funds or keep funds sent to them from outside the country. Looks like a certain candidate needs to read that part carefully.
- Political parties have to keep accurate receipts of their donations and make these available to INEC on request. The agency must also make these audited returns available for the public to inspect.
Now would be a good time to drop the fact that it’s been three years since the 2019 elections, yet none of the parties that participated have submitted their reports. Make of that what you will.
- Parties must publish all excesses in at least two national newspapers within six months of the election.
Are there any limits?
The new law has increased the total amount a presidential candidate can spend on their election campaign from ₦1 billion to ₦5 billion.
However, the maximum donation an individual or organisation can make to a political party is pegged at ₦50 million. If it’s more than ₦50 million, the party has to disclose the source of the contribution to INEC.
What are the penalties for exceeding limits?
Candidates who exceed the electoral act’s spending limits could be convicted and imprisoned for 12 months or pay a fine of 1% of the limit amount. For a presidential candidate, this 1% would be ₦50 million.
Donors who violate the law can also be imprisoned for nine months or pay a fine of up to ₦500,000 if found guilty.
However, these laws have merely been on paper and INEC has often struggled to impose penalties.