Connect with us


Poverty major reason for vote-buying, says INEC



The fight against vote buying and selling in Nigeria is seriously being frustrated by weak punitive sanctions against the perpetrators and increasing poverty  in the country, key stakeholders in electoral process have said.

They raised the concern during a policy dialogue with the theme, ‘Addressing vote-trading in Nigeria from global comparative experiences’, organised by the Electoral Forum in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and MacArthur Foundation.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, represented by his Chief of Staff, Otive Igbuzor, said that vote-trading had become an unusual democratic experience, which served as a clog in the wheel of free choice and democracy in Nigeria.

According to him, the menace had become a common phenomenon in Nigeria’s political system, which, he said, had brought negative consequences to the country’s electoral system.

While observing that vote-trading only guaranteed limited, elections-bound benefits for a few, but jeopardising the long-term fortunes of the majority, Omo-Agege called for stronger punitive sanctions against perpetrators and sustained information campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments to collectively fight the menace.

He said, “To stem the ugly behaviour, everyone should be involved, both voters and contestants. It needs sustained information campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments to collectively shun vote-buying.

“Punitive sanctions strategies are more likely to be successful than moralistic pleas. Political actors who buy votes should face stringent consequences. Political financing reform, and ensuring election security and ballot secrecy, are equally vital in addressing vote-selling. Most of this was taken care of in the new Electoral Act 2022 passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the president.”

The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, represented by a National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the speedy passage of the National Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill by the National Assembly would checkmate vote-buying.

The INEC boss admitted that poverty was largely responsible for the menace. He, however, expressed confidence that the tide would change soon as Nigerians were beginning to have faith in the electoral process.

Yakubu said, “We are going to intensify voter education and sensitise the people more with regards to vote-buying. People have also talked about poverty. Yes, we all know it’s poverty. But I think also that as soon as people begin to have faith in the electoral process, they will begin to see the power that they have over the people who are running for offices. And I believe that very soon, the story will change and the power will return to the people.”

The chairman of Electoral Forum Chairman, Prof. Bayo Olukoshi, said there had been a global consensus that seeking to eliminate the use of money in politics was almost impossible and waste of time because politicians would find ways to bring the use of money into the political equation.

According to him, democracies around the world had moved away from elimination to regulation of the use of money in politics, in a way to ensuring that the use of money did not corrupt integrity of the electoral process.

Olukoshi said, “So, money in politics is a global challenge, especially criminal money which are unaccounted and very difficult to trace. However, in our context, the debate around the issue of money in politics is again not an entirely new debate for those who are old enough to know the politics of the Second Republic where we saw increasingly the significant role of money as opposed to issues and ideas entering the Nigerian political space.

“But what happened in the Second Republic will seem to have been a child’s play compared to what we are dealing with today, in which it is absolutely clear that if you do not have a well-oiled godfather sponsoring you, or you do not have the resources of your own to oil your political machinery, you are not likely regardless of how beautiful your ideologies may be or your record of personal integrity and achievement may be, you are not likely to be able to make a dent on our political system.

“Much more than that is the fact that the use of money has gone beyond simply capturing political parties and structures to infiltrate the wider electorate.”

Speaking on the ‘Socio-political paradox of vote-trading in Nigeria: Focus on the political party primaries and the recent Ekiti and Osun governorship elections’, the immediate past Resident Electoral Commission, Rivers State, Obo Effanga, said the malaise of vote-trading required the involvement of a multiplicity of stakeholders, agencies, and groups to address it.

He traced the root of the menace to the economic imbalance and inequality in Nigeria, which if fixed, according to him, would to a large extent reduce the “number of poor people whose vulnerability currently is such that they can easily be dangled pittance in exchange for their vote.”

Effanga lamented that vote-trading is also aided and abetted by security officials at the polling unit, adding that this could happen either by failure to ensure adequate arrangement to guarantee secrecy of the vote or failure to take steps to prevent those who try to breach the rules.

“The law enforcement agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must ensure appropriate steps to stem or react to incidents of vote-trading, before, during, and after each election. I am not sure we yet have records of anybody picked or investigated for vote-trading during all the political party primaries this year.

“However, it is also a paradox that those saddled with the responsibility to fix the economy are also the primary beneficiaries of the vote-trade – politicians. Therefore, it would appear that it serves their purpose to keep the economy in shambles in order to sustain the vote-trading market dynamics,” he stated.

On his part, chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, represented by provost of the Anti-corruption Academy, Prof. Olatunde Babawale, warned that vote-buying has a tendency of frustrating and undermining the war against corruption in Nigeria.

He said the ICPC was working with INEC to tackle the menace.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


New State lawmaker appoints 14 aides



Ondo lawmaker Chris Ayebusiwa
A first–time Ondo lawmaker Chris Ayebusiwa has announced the appointment of 14 aides.

Seven of the newly appointees are to work as legislative aides while seven others would work at the Ward level of the party.

Ayebusiwa was among the 26 lawmakers that took oath of office into the 10th Assembly at the weekend.

He said the appointments was to ensure smooth running of office.

Among those appointed were: Monday Akinsulere as Senior Legislative Aide; Femi Olawoye as Personal Assistant; Morayo Itiolu as Special Assistant Women & Girl Child Affairs; Kehinde Akinyemi as Special Assistant, Media & Advocacy; Joshua Akindoyo as Special Assistant, Youth & Mobilisation; Ayo Olowoselu as Special Assistant, Special Duties and Osedele Gbenga as Special Assistant, Party Affairs.

Others are: Adebayo Saheed, Obolo Morenike, Idowu Fasalejo, Simeon Adedeji, Atinuke Arikawe, Koya Mewaye and Mrs Ayebuola.

He urged the appointees to put communal interest above their personal comfort and advised them to work toward achieving improved status for the constituency.

Continue Reading


Gunmen kidnap UNIZIK student



Revd. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara, abducted
A student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State who is also a Catholic Priest, Revd. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara, has been abducted by gunmen.

The student, who was abducted over the weekend, was said to be returning home from school when the gunmen ambushed and whisked him away to an unknown destination.

It was also gathered that the victim is a clergyman working with the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi.

Announcing the victim’s abduction in a press statement, the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Rev. Fr. Raphael Ezeogu identified the abducted priest as Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara.

He further called for insistent prayers to ensure the safety and immediate release of the abducted clergy.

“Our priest, Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Mbamara, a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, was kidnapped Friday evening, on his way from Awka to Nnewi.

“Let’s storm heaven with humble and insistent prayers for his quick release in sound health of mind and body. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Help of Christians, pray with and for us,” he said.

Efforts to receive the reaction of the Police Public Relations in Anambra State, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, proved abortive, as his phone number was not connecting.

It would be recalled that another UNIZIK student, Sylvester Mercy Chinomso (Mesi Sylvia) of the of Parasitology and Entomology Department, was sometime ago abducted  by unknown gunmen.  She was  abducted along with her sister.

Continue Reading


PSC to elevate junior Police lawyers, others



Dr Solomon Arase, Cheirman PSC

…Says Commission will review their status, place them properly

The Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Dr. Solomon Arase, former Inspector General of Police has promised to look into the status of qualified lawyers serving in the Nigeria Police Force and appearing in Courts with the ranks of Corporals, Sergeants and Inspectors.

He also said the cases of other junior Police Officers who acquired additional certificates in other disciplines while in service will also receive the attention of the Commission.

Dr. Arase noted that this will give the Officers the required self confidence to perform better.

He spoke in Abuja when he received in audience the leadership of the Unity Bar, (Nigerian Bar Association Abuja branch).
Bar. Afam Okeke Chairman of the Association who led the delegation had complained that Lawyers who came into the Police as Junior Officers but improved their qualifications are currently appearing and defending cases in Courts for the Nigeria Police Force but still wearing junior ranks.

The PSC Chairman told the delegation that the Commission may decide to send these categories of Police Lawyers and other junior Police Officers with additional qualifications on a short Service training after which they would be properly placed as Officers.

He said the Nigeria Police needs the services of more Lawyers stressing that the Commission will come out with a decision that will leave all parties in a win-win situation.

Dr. Arase used the opportunity of the courtesy visit to call on the Nigerian Bar Association to advise practising Lawyers to stop criminalising civil matters.

“It is wrong and should be discouraged, civil matters should be treated as civil matters and arbitration should serve the parties and the society better.

“We should avoid time wasting in criminalising civil matters and sending them to the Police when it can be better handled outside of the Police,” he noted.

Dr. Arase called for a robust legal system in Nigeria that inspires the citizens to seek for redress and justice. He noted that Offenders must be arrested and prosecuted to restore confidence in the system.

He informed his visitors that the Commission is setting up a Compliance Monitoring Unit to ensure the Police Complaints Response Units promptly attends to public complaints.

This new Unit, he said will be directly under his supervision for effectiveness and efficiency. The Commission according to him will henceforth ensure that it prevents a system that does not attend to public complaints.

Dr. Arase also spoke of the Commission’s desire to collaborate with the Nigeria Bar Association and organise some training programmes on human rights so as to expose its staff Lawyers to a better appreciation of its duties.

He promised the participation of the Commission and its Staff Lawyers in the Law Week of the Abuja branch and the National body’s convention in Abuja.

Bar. Okeke, the Chairman of the Unity Bar had earlier congratulated the PSC Chairman on his appointment and pledged the Union’s support.

Continue Reading