A former Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has said the All Progressives Congress jacked up the price of its nomination and declaration of interest forms for the presidential election to N100 million to be able to finance court cases and pay judgment debts.
According to Okorocha, members of the political parties usually forget about their party after being elected into public offices.
“The issue of the cost of the forms has been a little bit controversial. On the side of the public, they think it is too high. And really, everybody will think it is too high, given the salaries of the president, the governors and others. But on the side of the party, for them, it is a way to raise money: one. Two, it is a way to remove people who are not serious in the business, who might find cheap funds and decide to go for court cases to seek injunctions and what have you. I think these are the reasons.
“But, I think this is an eye-opener, going forward. I think the idea of democracy should be amended a bit in Nigeria so that we can begin to get, actually, the persons that the people want. We would have been better to say in the next political dispensation, let everyone aspiring should let the people purchase their forms,” he said.
According to him, it will make a candidate to feel indebted to the people and the government will truly be of the people, by the people and for the people.
“It looks like it is all moneybags affairs…if you can afford it, pay. That is going to throw up a lot of people who think they could just go and buy the votes, buy the people, buy the delegates, get into power and refund themselves,” Okorocha said.
He added, “The party has a duty to run the party. The truth is that after primaries, nobody cares about the party. And as APC has litigation now, with almost N100m (judgment debts) that they owe, where will they get the money to pay? So, they think that the presidential aspirants have the capacity to mobilise resources from their friends and folks to support them; and in that case, they can make money. That is the only justifiable reason.”
Okorocha, who featured on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television which our correspondent monitored from Abuja on Tuesday, who noted that he had earlier informed the President of his presidential ambition, however, pointed out that Buhari would not openly and unilaterally endorse anybody for the APC.
Okorocha, who is presently a member of the Senate, noted that the President would consider several factors before endorsing any of the presidential aspirants in the APC.
The ex-governor said, “First, he will look at the mood of the nation and see actually who will fit into the mood of the nation. President Buhari will look at who can win this election for APC because, definitely, he wouldn’t want to lose the seat to PDP. So, he will be smart enough to say this person can do that. So, there are a lot of considerations. It is not something he wakes up and says this person should go. We are talking about Nigeria now, we are not talking about APC as a party; they are two different things. Remember that there are other parties. PDP is there, watching. And PDP’s prayer will be, ‘May APC produce a very bad candidate that we can just have an overall.’ These are the factors he has to consider.”
When asked about the possibility of non-APC persons like former President Goodluck Jonathan; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; and President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, becoming the choice candidate of Buhari, Okorocha stated that the President would not imposed anybody on the party.
Okorocha also said presidential aspirants from the South who are not from the South-East geopolitical zone have a moral burden to bear in the race. He stated that on the same moral ground upon which southerners have called for power shift from the North, is the same group upon which it should go to the South-East.
Speaking on the likely emergence of Jonathan as APC’s consensus candidate, Okorocha said, “He will contest like any other person (at the primary). Nobody is afraid or scared. There will be nothing like consensus candidate. That is not likely to happen because the President Muhammadu Buhari that I know will consider certain factors to do that.”