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Nigeria's Peter Obi not the first presidential candidate to publicly account for campaign funds

IN SHORT: Supporters claim the Labour Party's presidential candidate for Nigeria’s 2023 election is the first ever to account for his campaign funding and expenses. But that’s not accurate. 

Nigeria’s Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi has revealed details of his campaign funding and spending for the 2023 elections. His supporters claim he is the first presidential candidate to do so.

Obi was one of the leading contenders for Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election. He came third with 6.1 million votes and challenged the result in court. The supreme court rejected his appeal in October 2023.

On 15 February 2024, Aisha Yesufu, who chaired the campaign’s fundraising team, said Nigerians had donated N596 million, while Obi had donated N800 million. The party spent N744.5 million challenging the presidential election results in court.

Many supporters praised Obi for being transparent and accountable.

“Peter Obi has become the first ever presidential candidate in the history of Nigerian democracy to publicly give account for his campaign funding,” a supporter claimed on Instagram

The same claim was made in several posts on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Public disclosure of campaign funding and spending is rare in Nigeria, but is Obi the first presidential candidate to do so and what does the law say?


Political parties required to disclose donations, expenses

Nigeria’s Electoral Act requires political parties to submit an audited report to the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec). It must show “the amount of money spent by or on behalf of the party on election expenses, the items of expenditure and the commercial value of goods and services received for election purposes”. 

The audited report must be submitted to Inec within six months of the election and published in at least two national newspapers and on the parties’ official websites.

Many political parties do not comply with this law.   

Not the first presidential candidate to comply with law

We found no evidence of any other leading presidential candidate publishing a breakdown of campaign spending during the 2023 election, or previous elections.

However, we found media reports that the African Action Congress (AAC) presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, published a breakdown of his campaign funds and expenses in June 2023. 

Sowore’s campaign team also published its expenses in April 2019 after he contested that year’s presidential election on the AAC ticket. 

Although public accounting of presidential campaign funds is rare in Nigeria, it is incorrect to say that Obi was the first to do so.

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