The President of PVC Naija, a Project Victory Call Initiative, Dr Bolaji Akinyemi, has raised the alarm that vote-buying poses a serious threat to the 2023 general elections and Nigeria’s democracy.
He stated that vote-buying has the propensity of negatively affecting the voting decision of the voters, adding that they would by such inducement, not be able to cast their votes according to their
Speaking in Lagos on Monday, he alleged that there were instances of vote-buying in the just concluded Ekiti State Governorship election, adding that such should not continue.
He also alleged that there was a ‘commercialisation of democracy’ during the election.
He warned against such alleged electoral malpractice in the nation’s democracy.
He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to strictly implement the regulations that gave a long distance of voters to party agents.
He stated that PVC Naija, which is a non-governmental organisation that is into political education and advocacy, will continue to campaign for right political attitude by politicians and the electorate. He added that the NGO will continue to champion the education and mobilisation of Nigerians for active participation in elections.
Akinyemi said, “Vote-buying, if not checked would crumble Nigeria’s democracy. Democracy is simply the govenrment of the people for the people and by the people, where inducement is not the order of the day, where people are not paid to make their decision. It has to be their free will decision but if the decision is no longer free will, then democracy is threatened.
“The vote-buying thing is a common thing in Nigerian space and politics for sometimes. What we are familiar with in terms of rigging is not as bad as it is. It is like politicians have invented a new way of transacting their ‘business,’ which is more of voting buying. What I witnessed in Ekiti State was complete commercialisation of democracy where the highest bidder picked the day.I do not think it was limited
to a particular political party. All of them were involved.
“It is just that what they were offering was basically different from one another. You had a particular party offering as much as N7,000; another party offering as much as N5,000 and a party offering as low
as N2000. And then you have specifically selected polling units where individual candidates or individual persons who are not candidates of that election but who are candidates of other elections, for example, House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate, came to ensure that they fortify their hold on their particular consistency to be able to make the required impact when their own election will be coming.
“A particular person was splashing as much as N20,000 for a vote. It was that embarrassing and ridiculous. And you can imagine a community that has been in abject poverty, where things seem not to be rolling and the average worker in the private sector earns N10,000 a month. So if you are offering somebody a two-month pay to thump print, the person may not resist the temptation. The level of education also is another issue. These are some of the things that we have noticed.
“On the part of INEC, one had expected that we have the opportunity to ensure the vote-buying was made difficult by insisting on the placement of the kiosk or cubicle at long distance of voters to the party agents. But what you see is a situation where the voter was able to show the ballot paper to show that he had voted for a particular
party and after that, he will go and collect money.
“It was really a mess and I think there has to be a law or INEC insisting on its regulation of specifying the long meter or long distance of agents to the cubicle. I think we have to go to the setting up of those cubicle and those meters have to be measured so that the agents are far enough not to see the decision that individuals voters are making. We have to do that as a matter of urgency going forward to 2023.”