A civil society group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has asked the two major political parties in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress, to disclose their sources of funding for the 2015 elections campaigns.
The group, which served the political parties a Freedom of Information requests, asked them to “urgently provide information about their spending on the electoral campaigns and other operations linked to the February 2015 general elections”.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Executive Director of SERAP, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, on Tuesday.
The group said, “By virtue of Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled, as a right, to request or gain access to information being requested. Under the FoI Act, your party is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within seven days after the application is received”.
SERAP urged the political parties to disclose information on their entire budget for the campaigns and other operations as it pertains to the February 2015 general elections.
“They should also declare the total amounts that have been spent, the anticipated spending and the sources of any such spending, and the total contributions received by the presidential and governorship candidates and the sources of any such contributions”, the statement said.
According to SERAP, releasing the information will douse the suspicion that the major political parties in the country are not transparent and accountable.
The group said the lack of transparency and accountability in political finance were seriously undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the democratic and electoral processes.
“This is invariably denying the citizens the right to effective participation in their government”, the statement added.
In the two separate letters dated November 18, 2014 and addressed to the acting national chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, and APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the group expressed concerns about the risks of corruption during electoral campaigns for the February 2015 general elections.
“If the requested information is not provided to us within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, the registered trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you and your party to comply with our request”, the group said.
It added that “Nigerians have the right to know about spending by their political parties, especially the major parties with a strong possibility to assume government in the future. Citizens should be able to examine financial transactions of political parties and be certain that politicians are working for their voters, not their benefactors.
“The political parties cannot take the position that the FoI Act does not apply to them because to do otherwise would seriously undermine citizens’ trust and lack of trust would inevitably decrease citizens’ interest and participation in democratic processes.
“We believe that without free and fair elections, there can be no democracy. However, elections are only one part of the democratic process, and a fair and effective electoral system must be founded in an adequate democratic infrastructure and responsibility of political leaders.
“Disclosing the spending and the sources would also contribute to promoting informed voting by citizens who will have all the necessary information they need to make informed choices”.