Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

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Socialist Democracy Feb - Mar 2003



Fight INEC’S "Processing Fees"

On Friday, 17th January, 2003, at a meeting of the "Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Registered Political Parties Consultative Forum"

, INEC informed representatives of the political parties present that a political party will not be allowed to present candidates for the 2003 general elections unless it pays to INEC, for the each of its candidates across the country, the following fees: Presidential candidate N500,000, Senatorial candidate N250,000, House of Representatives candidates N150,000, Gubernatorial candidate N300,000, House of Assembly candidate N50,000. 

By this new, illegal, provocative and outrageous regime of fees being introduced by INEC, assuming all political parties were to field candidates for elective offices across the states of the federation, then each party would pay to INEC the sum of N169,950,000! And if this is multiplied by the 30 political parties, it amounts to N5,098,500,000 that INEC expects to gather from this illegal business of trading with political parties' contest and the democratic rights of Nigerians.

The National Conscience Party (NCP), one of the newly registered political parties, has however vowed to fight this latest attempt by INEC to place another hurdle before it and other pro-masses, radical but poor parties to contest the 2003 elections. According to the NCP, "the imposition of fees on candidates is another attempt to rig election (before it actually held) in favour of the PDP and other ruling parties …… why should wealth (genuinely or corruptly acquired), be the determinant of who should be candidates for election in a democracy".

Apart from taking legal action, the NCP vows to organise "mass rallies, processions, and protests on the streets and to INEC offices throughout Nigeria".

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) joins the NCP and some other parties to condemn this latest imposition of illegal and unconstitutional, so-called "processing fees"

on political parties by INEC. We commend the NCP for its open rejection of such anti-poor proposition, and hereby declare our support for its earlier highlighted plans to compel the INEC to rescind its decision. We further call on the poor working people, market men and women, students and youths, trade unions, pro-democracy organisations, etc, and other parties to rally round the struggle against the illegal processing fees of INEC.

INEC claims to derive its power to impose the illegal outrageous processing fees on political parties, from section 21 subsection (4) and (8) of the Electoral Act 2002. But this is false.

Nothing in the above quoted section of the Electoral Act 2002 empowers INEC, as it claims, to impose "processing fees", or any other fees whatsoever, on party candidates.

But why would INEC insist on imposing the provocative, illegal "processing fees" on parties outside the provisions of all known laws guiding the conduct of elections in Nigeria? The answer is simple. INEC, as the electoral organ of the ruling, thieving, irresponsible capitalist elite, spread across the dominant capitalist parties of PDP, ANPP, AD, etc, cannot be expected to be unbiased in an electoral contest between its bosses and pro-masses, radical parties like the NCP, which has vowed, if elected to power, to probe the illicitly gotten wealth of its leaders and representatives; put through some radical reforms in areas like the economy, social security, education, health care, etc, and generally pose a threat to the ill-gotten privileges of the capitalist ruling elites. Hence, the preparedness of INEC, as a willing tool in the hands of the ruling PDP and other bourgeois parties, to introduce rules, guidelines and procedure, just like the illegal and unconstitutional processing fees, designed to prevent radical, pro-working people political parties like NCP from fielding candidates in the coming general elections, having failed in its earlier undemocratic attempt to prevent the registration of political parties until it was compelled by a Supreme Court judgment of 8th November, 2002.

In the December 2002 special bulletin of our paper, the Socialist Democracy, we stated: 

"To us in the DSM, this decision by INEC to allow NCP and other political parties that were earlier refused registration to stand candidates in subsequent elections will go down in history as one of the decisive victories won by the working people since January 1966 when the military wing of the Nigerian ruling class first seized power and abolish the right to organise political parties and contest elections without having to first get the approval of the government or any of its agencies…… 

But while the registration of the NCP undoubtedly represents a big step forward for the working masses, to us in the DSM, it should be seen just as a stage in the struggle of the masses for genuine multi-party democracy and an end to the endless life of mass poverty and capitalist oppression. A lot of huge obstacles still remain to be overcome".

Barely one month after, one of such huge obstacles has been thrown across the path of the poor working masses to enjoy their hard-earned victory recorded by the struggle for the registration of more political parties and the expansion of the political space, which was hitherto dominated solely by money bag, pro-rich, anti-poor capitalist parties. 

The NCP must therefore be prepared to continue to mobilize the poor working masses, which constitute the bulk of its members, the students and youth, other strata of the oppressed and all other change-seeking people to wage ceaseless battle against all undemocratic attempts by INEC and its masters in the ruling capitalist parties to deny it of the opportunity to offer an alternative to the working masses against the rot and irresponsibility represented by the current ruling capitalist class. The aim of INEC is to turn the registration secured by NCP and other parties into mere paper registration, knowing well that its newly introduced, unconstitutional and illegal "processing fees"

can only be paid by money bag parties and politicians who have been responsible for the massive looting and outright stealing of our collective resources to the detriment of the poor toiling masses. INEC intends to operate a "democracy" of a very few, super-rich looters, military generals and rogues.

Even if it fails in its latest attempt to create another unjust and illegal barrier for pro-working masses parties like NCP to contest the coming elections, and it is compelled by legal and popular mass actions of the masses to rescind this latest decision, INEC and the ruling capitalist class in general would still try other means to prevent a party like the NCP from capturing power. 

Those methods could even include the use of acts of violence against NCP members and activists; organising conspiracies against the NCP and pro-working people parties, and the outright rigging of the elections. Already there are widespread reports of the antics of the military generals, the moneybag politicians and their agents, whom INEC's politics of moneytisation is orchestrated to favour, to rig themselves to power, of course in collusion with INEC, in the coming elections. Already there are reports of the discovery of millions of fake ballot papers.

For instance, in The Guardian of Friday, 17th January, there is a report of the arrest of operators of a printing outlet who confessed to have been contacted to print fake ballot papers by a retired army colonel. According to the paper, the suspects also disclosed that the "colonel" agreed to pay N200 per copy of the fake card. They were to print five million cards, amounting to N100,000,000. 

So, while INEC is conspiring to churn out series of illegal, unconstitutional anti-poor, pro-rich-looters regulations to prevent parties like the NCP, its anointed bosses, the retired military generals and other moneybag politicians are busy plotting their game to rig out parties of the poor masses like the NCP in event that INEC failed in all its undemocratic attempts to stop the NCP and other parties from fielding candidates in the elections.

Therefore, while struggling against the latest illegal roadblock mounted by INEC on its part, as represented by the so-called processing fees, NCP and in fact the working masses in general must take measures to minimize or prevent the ruling class parties from rigging the coming elections. To this end, NCP should encourage its members and activists and the working masses to establish democratic grassroot, local election monitoring committees who will be very vigilant and monitor voting in the polling centres and collation of results. Also, NCP must educate and organise the masses to be prepared at all times to struggle to defend their votes and rights.



Continued ...