Political Financing and Corruption in Nigeria: A Contextual Overview

The major identified sources of political financing are donations and contributions through fundraising activities, personal sources and from the corporate sector. However, researchers and several electoral monitoring groups have revealed that corruption and abuse of state funds have been main sources of campaign financing in Nigeria despite the provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended, that clearly stipulates laws guiding political party and campaign financing in the country. This chapter explores the linkages between political financing and corruption in Nigeria and gives a contextual background of how past general elections in Nigeria have been funded and the rudiments of political party financing within the country.

Politics and Political Financing: A theoretical overview

Politics is as old as humanity. Politics is present wherever leadership has to be elected, appointed, recruited or installed.  Harold Dwight Lasswell (1936) described politics as ”who gets what, when, and how”. (Harold Dwight Lasswel, H. D. Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How). According to him, politics is a kind of competition for who gets the most out of society (and, by default, who gets the least). Political action, in his view, was largely motivated by money.   Sharing a similar view, Canadian-born American political scientist, David Easton defined politics as “the authoritative allocation of values for the society.” Politics involves competition, negotiation, consensus building and conflict management.

In a narrow sense, the game of politics involves the establishment of democratic structures known as political parties. These parties sponsor candidates for election. To be able to successfully do that, they must have robust and comprehensive leadership structures. Thus, an ideal political party in Nigeria, for instance is expected to have structures at the different levels of governance – Ward, Local Government, State, Zone and National level. Leadership at these levels is recruited through elective congresses while at the national level; leadership is put in place at elective conventions. Huge resources are needed to institute and maintain these elaborate political structures. Politicians have had to spend money to organise themselves into political parties. They have to spend money to seek registration with the election management bodies; pay for office accommodation and  staff salaries; print campaign posters; organise election campaign rallies; advertise their manifestoes as well as do several other things that require spending money and time. Political parties are expected to organise party primaries for their aspirants amongst whom party candidates will emerge. Thus, politics is a capital-intensive venture.

(To be continued)

Culled from Resource Mobilization Strategies for Women’s Effective Political ParticipationInstitutionalizing Anti-Corruption and Accountability in Nigeria (2019)

A Publication of Nigerian Women Trust Fund