What does the Electoral Act say about election spending?

Dec 19, 2022|Stears Explains

Winning elections have become increasingly expensive. Besides the prohibitive costs of getting nomination forms, there is the small matter of buying advert space, travelling to attend campaign events and paying campaign staffers. However, there are limits on how much a candidate can receive and how much a candidate can spend in an election cycle.

How much can candidates spend?

The recently passed amendment to the Electoral Act has increased the limit that candidates can spend on an election. Section 88 (2-7) covers the limit on expenses for various elections. The maximum amount is currently pegged at ₦5 billion for presidential candidates (Section 88-2), ₦1 billion for governorship candidates (Section 88-3), ₦100 million for senatorial candidates and ₦70 million for federal house of Representatives candidates (Section 88-4). These limits were revised with the current amendment since presidential candidates were previously limited to ₦1 billion and governorship candidates to ₦200 million.

The Electoral Act gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the power to determine what ‘election expenses’ are. Section 89 states that these are costs incurred by a party from the date notice is given to conduct an election up to and including the election day itself. This means that any post-election litigation is not included in the cost.

How much can candidates receive?

The recently passed amendment to the Electoral Act also emphasises INEC’s power to determine the limit on campaign donations. Section 88 (8) currently pegs the maximum limit of donations to a candidate at ₦50 million and lists fines and proposed court counts to candidates and parties that err on this front.

Parties must also submit detailed campaign account forms to INEC, which will be published for review. As these elections will be the first under the new Electoral Act, it remains to be seen how strict INEC will be in overseeing this process.

How likely will the electoral act 2022 change in the future?

Before the recent amendment, the last change to the provisions of the Electoral Act was in 2010. Analysts have encouraged legislators to ensure more consistent reviews of the Electoral  Act to ensure that it is up to date with any electoral reform proposals. If future sessions of the national assembly and presidents comply, then laws concerning campaign finance will likely change—especially to address financial limitations.

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