- Olusegun Adebiyi (Secretary, Organised Labour, Ogun State)
Inducement of electorate has been around for quite some time. What is, however, novel about it in recent times is the brazenness of buyers and sellers?
Physical cash, basic commodities such as rice, vegetable oil are routinely distributed at virtually all political parties’ periodic meetings and rallies.
A political party’s annual, biennial or triennial convention serves as another ground for the distribution of cash. So, the highest bidder holds the winning streak.
Such is the stark reality of the Nigerian brand of democracy; purposely and ultimately to sway would-be voters.
It is an entrenched political party policy and Nigerians are well aware of the culture.
Pathetically, the ravaging material poverty among the masses in the country has notoriously and unfortunately assisted in spreading it to such a disbelieving proportion, reflecting the obvious disconnection of the electorate from their representatives.
Had the latter been interfacing with their community and have confidence in quality representation built overtime, the criminal exchange between voters and candidates would not have arose.
Redressing the ugly trend is not a rocket science. Enabling the legal framework as handed to the Independent National Electoral Commission; (Electoral Act 2010) is one of the keys to putting a check to it.
The agency, if properly weaned from the remote influences of influential contenders, can apply and enforce the proviso.
Also, the teaching and learning of democratic civic political culture comes in handy. In other climes where genuine tenets of democracy are rooted, the feat chiefly rotates on the fulcrum of systematic and sound education of citizens.
From classrooms at various levels of learning through to the advanced stage of institutional periodic circulation of information, electorate are constantly inundated with political education content, thereby enriching citizens’ understanding of expected conducts and roles in democratic environment.
- Prof. Femi Otubanjo (A Lagos-based public affairs analyst)
One of the ways in which vote buying is effective is that people have their phones to confirm that they have voted for party A or B. You will need to ensure that this does not happen. If people cannot confirm how a person voted, I wonder how those that are giving out the money can take the risk. So, you need to remove the element of confirmation, which is the mobile phone.
Although you cannot stop people from taking money; in fact, money can be sent through bank accounts to individuals, the risk there is that when you do that, you have to get them to swear, which is a more complex process. However, what we are seeing is not just vote buying.
In Osun State for instance, you can see the kind of negotiations was introduced by political parties after the suspended governorship election. This too is a form of vote buying. Unfortunately, vote buying is being encouraged at the highest level of government. I think what should be done is to criminalise the act; it is a form of rigging
- Mrs Ayoola Olusegun (Member Federation of International Women Lawyers)
Vote-buying and selling have become a new industry that thrives, especially during elections. This is sad and it is giving Nigeria a bad name in the eyes of people in other climes. We need to curb this in order to prevent our democracy from being hijacked by corrupt politicians who are desperate to buy their ways into power.
To curb this, we need to address the issue of poverty. There is acute poverty in Nigeria now and I believe that is why Nigeria is now ranked very high in poverty index. Poor people don’t see anything wrong in selling their votes because they need to survive before they can think about democracy.
People say it openly without shame that they would vote for whoever gave them money and you can imagine how bad the situation has become. Some people see N5,000 which they are promised as something very big but you cannot blame them because they have been impoverished and they need the money to meet some immediate needs.
But we have laws against vote buying and selling and it attracts imprisonment and an option of fine or both depending on the discretion of the judge. I believe that if this is enforced and some people are made scapegoats, it will deter others from engaging in it.
I believe some were arrested in Ekiti State and they are still in court; I also heard that some were arrested in Osun State as well. If these people are found guilty and they are punished according to the law, I can tell you that it will serve as deterrent to others. They will now weigh the gains and the pains and decide on whether to take the risk and go to jail if caught or take the N5,000 on offer. But the real issue to address is poverty.
- Mr Sambo Muritala (Head of Chambers, Sambo Muritala & Co. Activist Chambers, Ilorin)
Vote buying, legally speaking, is a situation whereby one gives an undue favour to get the consent or one receives an undue favour to change the voting pattern.
When you look at Section 124 of Electoral Act, it is specific on that. But I discovered that recently, people concentrate on buying vote with money alone. Meanwhile, it is not limited to that. Take for example, what was alleged to have happened in Osun State.
Many people believe that the supplementary election did not take place the way it ought to. When you observe people negotiating with the Osun State governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Omisore, it could be argued that such is another means of buying votes. That may be seen as an undue influence and coercion which are things that are fully discussed in Section 124 of Electoral Act.
If vote buying must be stopped, conscious efforts and strategies must be activated. The Independent National Electoral Commission had tried its best by making it impossible for the buyer to get access to what he is buying and the sellers, getting access to what is being sold by creating that cubicle. Politicians will never buy a vote from somebody they are not sure will cast his vote for them. For that reason when it is made difficult for politicians to see evidence that one voted for them, vote buying could be eradicated or greatly reduced, but it is step by step. Thank God, the way we were in some past elections, we have moved away from that state. We should ensure that voters are not allowed to go with evidence of who they voted for.
Hunger, poverty, and lack of awareness or enlightenment could be factors boosting vote buying. People should be empowered to have self worth and human dignity.
However, some believe that no matter how rich one is, if one does not have dignity, such person will always ask for more. The value system in the society has fallen. People steal money from the public treasury and yet people clap them. You can see the level the value system in the society had fallen! INEC should continue to ensure that the buyers of votes are not allowed to access the ballot papers already used during voting.
It is also important for INEC to ensure that apprehended vote buyers and sellers and other arrested electoral offenders were prosecuted. Once offender are caught, it us the responsibility of INEC to prosecute them. Once they can prosecute them, then vote buying will reduce.
- Edem Duke ( A former Minister of Culture and Tourism)
What we need is massive education and reorientation. Reorientation is critical because over the years, that has been completely eroded in our families and in schools.
We must go back to re-establishing our values which places emphasis on transparency and honesty; that is what we need because it is critical for us to have a conscience.
If we begin to talk about vote buying now, these are voluntary things that people do; they may accept, they may decide not to accept, but we are saying that government must be responsible for re-orientation. That is why I think we should go back to the basics.
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