Electoral Umpires and the Task of Tracking Political Campaign Funds: The Case of Nigeria

Electoral Umpires and the Task of Tracking Political Campaign Funds: The Case of Nigeria

Benjamin Enahoro Assay (Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1734-5.ch002

Abstract

In some climes, the electoral law places a limit on the amount political parties and candidates can spend during campaigns. But very often, contestants and their parties flout the law on campaign funds limit especially in evolving democracies where the implementation of the law is weak. And this has prompted stakeholders in the political process to urgently canvass for the tracking of campaign funds by Election Management Bodies (EMBs). In Nigeria, despite the existence of a law which requires political parties to make public their campaign spending and submit same to the Independent National Electoral Commission for scrutiny, there appears to be a zero compliance with the Electoral Act. Political parties' non-compliance with the provisions of the law has placed INEC in a precarious situation as far as the tracking of campaign funds is concerned. It is against this backdrop that this chapter proffers solutions and recommends ways to make the electoral umpire live up to its responsibilities.
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Introduction

The role of electoral campaigns in modern democratic politics cannot be overstated. Election campaigns provide candidates and political parties with opportunities to present their message to citizens, helping voters make educated and informed decision on election day (ACE 2012).

Election campaigns are very important for election because: (1). It is a time period when free and open discussion takes place between different political parties;(2). It is the time when candidates contact their voters and political leaders and address election meetings; (3). It is the time period when newspapers and television news are full of election related stories and debates, and (4). This is also the period when people come to know about politics and programmes of various political parties.

An electioneering campaign is an organized effort to persuade voters to choose one candidate over others competing for the same office. The main actor involved in the campaign are political parties and aspirants. Contestants in the elections, as Oboh (2014, p. 97) points out “usually carryout political campaigns in places where they publicly declare their candidacy together with the programmes and manifestoes of their parties, which they intend to implement for the benefit of their people when they are elected into office.”

During election campaigns, political candidates meet with the members of their constituencies to discuss the problems affecting the growth and development of their communities and how the candidates intend to solve the problems when elected into office. Leighley (2004, p. 200) postulates that:

Elected officials are expected to adopt policies that are consistent with voter’s preference. How closely official policy decisions mirror the preferences of citizens is a critical feature of democratic politics. The more closely they do, the more representative the democracy, and the less likely that elected officials are enacting policies (at variance) to the wishes of the people.

In order to succeed in their political ambitions, candidates through their political parties raise funds to prosecute their election or re-election bid using an effective campaign. Salmore and Salmore (1989, p.115) posit that an effective campaign “requires resources to acquire and analyze information on voters’ interest, develop a strategy and matchmaking actions for appealing to these interests, deliver the candidates’ message to the voters, and get them to cast their ballots.” Campaign funds are therefore regarded as the war chest of political parties and their candidates.

A sizeable part of the campaign funds is spent on paid political advertisements, and other forms of publicity in newspaper and other media, hence Patterson (2005, p. 39) notes that the modern presidential campaign is a media campaign.” The electoral law in some countries places a limit on the amount political parties and candidates can spend during campaigns, but very often contestant and their parties flout the law on campaign funds especially in evolving democracies. And this has prompted calls for the tracking of campaign funds by the electoral umpires otherwise known as Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs).

This chapter therefore discusses electoral umpires and the task of tracking political campaign funds in Nigeria. The objectives of the chapter are:

  • 1.

    To show how the law regulates campaign spending in Nigeria.

  • 2.

    To point out how the campaign finance laws in Nigeria resonate with the laws in other countries.

  • 3.

    To show why it is difficult for the electoral umpire (Independent National Electoral Commission) in Nigeria to track political campaign funds.

  • 4.

    To recommend ways for the electoral umpire in Nigeria to overcome the challenges of tracking political campaign funds.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Election: Is a formal process of selecting a person for public office.

Election Management Body: Is the body legally responsible for managing some or all the essential elements to an election.

Election Campaign: Is the means by which candidates and political parties prepare and present their ideas and propositions on issues to the voters in the period preceding election day.

Electoral Offence: Any conduct-action which is prohibited by the constitution or the Electoral Act and a breach of which attracts punishment is called electoral offence.

Political Party: Is a group of person organized to acquire and exercise political power.

Political Advertising: Is a form of campaigning used by political candidates to reach and influence voters.

Campaign Finance: This refers to all funds raised to promote candidates, political parties or policy initiatives and referenda.

Political Candidate: It refers to candidate standing for election for political offices.

Regulation: Is the controlling of an activity or process, usually by means of rules.

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