ELECTIONS, no doubt, thrive in a democratic government. For it to thrive, it must be devoid of all malpractices. In other words, it must be free and fair; all qualified adults must be rightly registered and completely free to vote the candidate of their choice, without any form of imposition or inducement.
THE big question is “can this be said of elections in Nigeria, where voters are induced by both politicians and political parties?”
BEFORE now, snatching of ballot boxes and other forms of violence were usually deployed by power hungry politicians. But today, vote-buying during elections is the order of the day. For instance, during the recent Ekiti State governorship election, shameless acts of vote-buying were reported during the election. Of course, that wasn’t the only place where this incident has occurred.
THE 2019 General election slated to hold on February 16 and March 2 was postponed at the early hours of Saturday, February 16 to February 23 and March 9 respectively, all just to ensure free, fair and credible election in Nigeria.
AS at now, arguments and counter arguments are on – going among well meaning Nigerians for or against the president’s order to the military to shoot at sight anybody that snatches ballot box in the forthcoming election. The question here is, do these arrangements include curbing of vote-buying?
It is obvious that in readiness for the election, some voters are waiting eagerly to vote the candidates of their choice while some, specifically those who want to make quick money, are aspiring to give their vote in exchange for money-to the highest bidder.
ON the other hand, politicians and parties are busy strategizing on how to win the election, be it by hook or by crook, and one of such methods is through vote-buying. Already, some groups like Ohaneze youths are already crying that vote buyers have invaded the South East ahead of Saturday’s elections.
Whether they will do the buying at the polling booths or anywhere in cash or kind, the truth remains that some politicians and their agents, including some voters who see it as an opportunity to cut their own part of the national cake are all ready waiting for the ‘D day’.
FOR avoidance of doubt, vote-buying refers to the use of money to induce voters. According to an Associate Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The United States, Frederic Schaffer, “Vote-buying is giving reward to a person for voting in a particular way.
IN his piece, Poverty, Democracy, and Clientelism: The Political Economy of Vote-buying, Schaffer noted that vote buying, in its simpler and literal form refers to an economic exchange, wherein voters sell their votes to candidates, sometimes to the highest bidder, in an election.
ACCORDING to the electoral Act, 2010, Article 130, “A person who-(a) corruptly by himself or by any other person at any time after the date of an election has been announced, directly or indirectly gives or provides or pays money to or for any person for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting at such election, or on account of such person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting at such election or (b) being a voter, corruptly accepts or takes money or any other inducement during any of the period stated in paragraph (a) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 or 12 months imprisonment.
NATIONAL Light deems it expedient to enjoin the general public to shun vote-buying and vote according to their conscience in this forthcoming 2019 general election. We make bold to asseverate that vote-buying remains a danger to Nigeria’s budding democracy; that voting in accordance to the dictate one’s conscience remains the best option for Nigeria if we must vote in the right person who would pilot the affairs of this country.
IT should not be forgotten that vote-buying hurts democracy in the long run as only fraudulent people will be elected in such manner. It is all about one risking his future and posterity to money bags who may eventually turn out good or bad; making the electorate to either applaud or blame whoever they voted in or even cry out in pains.
THE truth is that vote buying cannot occur unless some INEC officials and security operatives are compromised. We therefore call on INEC and security agents to save the country from future doom by reporting or arresting those involved to curb the menace.
THE electorate should equally know their value and be wise enough to report anyone trying to induce them to the appropriate authorities.