Vote buying and integrity of Nigeria's leadership selection procedure

Supreme Desk
11 Dec 2022 8:00 AM GMT
Vote buying and integrity of Nigerias leadership selection procedure
“The latest method employed in vote buying is alarming." "Each time INEC takes steps to curb these electoral crises, politicians devise more ways to subvert INEC’s efforts," Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said.

Vote buying is not a new lexicon in Nigeria's electoral system. Desperate politicians allegedly deployed it to rig their way to victory and subvert the will of the people. As one Yoruba saying goes, "édbó ésébé," meaning `vote and cook good soup`.

The last primaries held by the leading political parties to choose their presidential flag bearers were allegedly characterised by vote buying.

"The way the buying is usually done, as we have observed, is that the voters show the agents their vote for confirmation.

"They'll pick a paper, and go to a preconceived location to get paid", said Azuka Ogugua, Independent Corruption Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) spokesperson.

Ogugua said the ICPC would partner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the challenge was addressed.

She told a media event organized by Premium Times ahead of the Osun governorship election that collaboration among security agencies was key to tackling the problem.

The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture has been waging a campaign against vote-buying.

"Any voter whose choice of candidates in an election is influenced by money and who eventually votes fraudulent people or mediocre candidates into political offices has ultimately sold out his or her own future and that of his or her children."

"Nigerians should realize that vote-buying is detrimental to the development of the country and do away with it," the ministry said in a publication on its verified website.

Similarly, Prof.Attahiru Jega, the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has also thrown his weight behind the campaign against vote buying.

"Nigeria political parties need to reorganise themselves and their primary responsibility, not only in promoting their interest, but also mobilising the citizens around national interests.

"Until and unless political parties begin to do that, we will continue to have very weak, if not epileptic, democratic development, and the will and aspirations of the people will not be satisfied."

"With their money, very bad and reckless politicians will capture the parties and capture the states while we do nothing; that is not in the interest of this country," he said.

Alhaji Yabagi Sani, the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), urged politicians to stop using money to influence the rights of the people to choose their leaders.

Sani spoke at the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NPSS) during a forum for political parties on "Political Parties, Elections, and the Consolidation of Democracy: Emerging Issues and the Needed Interventions in Nigeria."

He also said that elections should not be characterized by rancor, noting that the conduct of free and fair elections in Africa has always been a very hard nut to crack.

"The power to choose is one of the fundamental rights of the people." The reason for electoral violence varies. It can be used to limit the number of voters, undermine the abilities of the opponents, or vandalize votes.

The European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi who also spoke at the event said there is a lot to be done to address the anomalies that have bedevil Nigeria election such vote buying and other forms of rigging.

The Director-General of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, called for sustained efforts to ensure credible elections in Nigeria.

Political parties, according to him, must desist from creating political violence and canvass for votes fairly, stressing the imperative of raising the standards of elections in the country.

Meanwhile, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, said the commission would continue to work towards reducing vote buying and other forms of electoral fraud to the barest minimum.

"The latest method employed in vote buying is alarming." "Each time INEC takes steps to curb these electoral crises, politicians devise more ways to subvert INEC's efforts," he said.

He claimed that such unpatriotic behavior undermines the integrity and sanctity of elections.

By Femi Ogunshola

Yakubu assured that as the nation's electoral laws continue to evolve, the challenges associated with conducting free and fair elections would be fixed one after another.

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