Sadly, after observing the appalling trend at the Ekiti state Guber Elections last week, it was indeed a depressing outlook which clearly shows the desperation of politicians to capture power by hook or crook. It's also quite pathetic to see that the electorates have also decided to mortgage their future to filthy lucre. The reasons for complaining as regards not enjoying the dividends of democracy from our leaders still boils down to burden on the electorates who sold their votes, hence they do not have any moral right to expect anything spectacular from those who purchased their mandates. As citizens, we need to clearly understand that elections in Nigeria ought not to be a product of conspiracy characterized by cash-and-carry democractic process.
While "vote buying and selling" is subjected to punishment as provided in the Nigeria Electoral Act, 2010, Article 130 which states that “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 or both”, the attainment of compliance to this legal provision remains a challenge due to the existing complexities with the structure.
This money-for-vote syndrome is indeed ridiculous due to the unprecedented level of commercialisation of the votes which has become an eyesore to our democracy. Ahead of 2019 General elections, this emerging impunity of vote-buying appears to be a dangerous trend in our elections and as such must be re-addressed urgently. So, imagine during the 2019 elections, some set of individuals decide to raise huge amount of money from each polling unit through vote buying and selling, that would be disastrous to the tripods of governance in the nation.
At some polling units where I observed, some of the political parties developed clever ways of monitoring the vote buying agreements. For example, some political ‘party agents’ were hired and placed at strategic locations very close to the ballot boxes to see which party a voter has voted before payment. The ‘Party agent’ will give a signal to another party agent to pay at the back, and if the voter fails to vote for the party, there is also a signal - this is quite intriguing because the essence of voters education has been outrightly abused. At the end of the day, winning the election, had nothing to do with the capabilities of the contestants or their capacity to deliver. It was more about who had all the mechanics and techniques to win the election.
Two major parties which indeed stole the game, APC and PDP went into a charade of the highest bidder strategy to woo voters, some unpaid workers received strange N3,000 credit alerts from the PDP Government in the state, while APC also strategically used N5k to induce voters in some Polling Units.
Sadly, the trend which involves the buying of votes is not an issue we can address just in the twinkle of an eye because the practice has come and it is staying with us, hence we must urgently begin to address this issue gradually. The highest bidder always have the floor with the favorable auction which births the cash and carry syndrome.
So, imagine during the 2019 elections, some set of individuals decide to raise huge amount of money from each polling unit through vote buying and selling, that would be disastrous to the tripods of governance in the nation.
Beyond the fuzzy of all the electioneering activities, it is normal for political gladiators to celebrate their victory, the electorates will also carry on with their own lives, however the intriguing activities which characterized the Ekiti Election was indeed another unprecedented nature in the annals of electoral contest in Nigeria. After the reggae of the Ekiti state elections comes the blue, the battle of electioneering campaigns are over and the euphoria of victory is gradually phasing out. The efficacy of money in the hitherto idealistic Ekiti State underscores the consequences of poverty in moulding democratic values.
For a tested grassroots mobiliser and political strategist, Fayose was outflanked and outplayed in his own game. He underestimated the determination of his old nemesis, Fayemi.
Alao Abiodun is a Journalist, He writes from Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]