Nigeria`s ruling party the All Progressives Congress recently reasserted its superiority in Ekiti State by snatching the gold medal in the just concluded Governorship elections in Ekiti State, handing some timely defeats in the process to the People Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party. But as usual, the ubiquity of the ballot box in the state nicely dovetailed with the ubiquity of those who buy and sell votes.
A relished return
Upon Nigeria`s return to electoral democracy in 1999, the coast once again became clear for elections as the principal doorway into public offices. This was important both for the polity and psyche of a long-suffering country because with the power of choice naturally came the power to be truly free. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had clearly provided for a limit of two terms of four years each for state governors and the president.
As per the Constitution, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) became Nigeria
s electoral umpire. With democracy restored, elections in the Giant of Africa soon became among the most keenly contested in the world in keeping with the countrys robust tradition of electoral contests which was truncated for many years by misguided military interventions.
Called to be independent but created to be dependent, at the behest of a manipulative presidency,INEC soon became an accomplice in some of the worst electoral heists ever known in the country. It took series of judicial interventions for some of the treachery midwifed by the Commission to be reversed. The passage of years has not entirely brought with it a smooth sailing. But at least, those days when bullets flew freely as ballot boxes were snatched have largely been consigned to a tasteless past.
Old dogs, new tricks.
But those who had carved a living out of chipping away at the will of the Nigerian people were never going to rest on their oars or allow themselves be deprived of their means of livelihood.
While the Nigerian voter has clearly grown beyond selling his vote for food items or clothing, the deep poverty entrenched in the land ensures that for a couple of a thousand naira notes, conscience can be cornered.
Shame in Anambra.
On November 6, 2021, electoral battle lines were drawn in Anambra, and as usual, the merchants of electoral death, those who buy and sell votes, were drawn to the state like vultures to the dead.
Business was obviously going nicely until difficult customers showed up in the form of some angry women voters. A video quickly went viral of how the women turned down the sum of five thousand naira offered for their votes. Muted celebrations erupted across the country. If the vote merchants were shamed in Anambra, they obviously went away vowing to improve their trade. And improve they did.
Joy in Ekiti.
In the elections in Ekiti State which were keenly contested by the All Progressives Congress, the Social Democratic Party and the Peoples Democratic Party, vote buying was said to be rife as the contest came down to a deathly struggle between the present and the future, between private pockets and the ballot box.
A Nigerian nightmare.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Nigerians must look closely at themselves in the mirror of the country`s democratic processes. Specifically, Nigerians must ask themselves what they want out of the box of chocolates that the ballot box offers.
If Nigerians want the situation of the country to improve and improve dramatically, then it is no rocket science that those who buy and sell votes during elections in the country can simply not be allowed to remain in business. As much as any other group of Nigeria`s tormentors, they peddle the maggots that tell of the deep rot that continues to eat away the heart of the country.
That Nigeria`s corridors of power are today crawling with thieves and truants largely has something to do with the fact that those who should have kept vigil at the gates were lulled to sleep by the lure of filthy lucre.
In a country where people daily sip the dregs of despair, depression and desperation largely because a lot of things are not working the way they should due to bad leadership, it only makes eminent sense that the bleeding is stanched from the source.
Until this is done, those who wail will continue to be ignored by the wolves who commandeer the public weal.