Vote buying: The cancer in Nigeria’s democracy

Blueprint Whatsapp

The March 18, 2023, governorship and state assembly elections were characterised by vote buying and selling. The elections were the worse I have ever seen. Right in my presence people bargaining for the price of their rights for peanuts and I wondered what the fate of Nigeria is.

Democracy is based on interest and choice but because of poverty people sell their rights and the dignity they have for money and food.

For me, money is the only winner of last Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections. The people that sold their rights have no reason to cry when policies of government adversity affect them and when they watch the leaders spending extravagantly and living luxuriously with their families because they have already collected their own share of the national cake by auctioning their franchise.

And, if leaders could secure power through irregularities, then who is a saint and who is a satan in everything good and bad in Nigeria? If that was how some politicians get power through buying votes then who is wrong and who is right in this country, and how could our courts, the authority and the people work for the development of this country?

Truly, my dream of seeing bright future for Nigeria is shattered, I am only caged in my dream because I was convinced that money is the cancer that is eating deeper into Nigeria’s flesh.

You may be confused to figure out who is a criminal in Nigeria between a thief of a goat that is charged to court and imprisoned and a politician that squandered billions, charged to court, gets bail and acquittal for his money. Indeed, the future of Nigeria is in the balance and our dream of having a prosperous and developed nation is a mirage.

The attack on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) staff in Kaduna state is just one evidence of how last Saturday’s elections were characterised by vote buying and other inducements in the state. The staff were attacked by hoodlums in broad day light in Unguwar Rimi in their efforts to arrest vote buyers.

A woman I chatted with confirmed to me in excitement that “before they promised to give us N10, 000 for every vote but now they said they don’t have much money and promised to give us N500 to enjoy our day and celebrate.” I was shocked to think of what N500 could do for one day?

Money really worked in almost every state that the elections held and I give victory to the shared money not the political contestants because it has been reported from various corners of Nigerian states that the higher bidder decides the vote.

In their efforts to fish out vote buyers, EFCC arrested 10 people suspected of vote buying with N1.9 million cash in Gombe state. The EFCC Kano Zonal Commander, Faruk Dogondaji, disclosed this to newsmen.

Also in Kano state, the operatives of the Kano State Police Command arrested the managing director of the state owned transport service, Bashir Nasiru Aliko, who was allegedly disrupting the voting process and snatching ballot boxes.

Meanwhile, at least three women were beaten up at different polling units in Kano for alleged vote buying. The incident occurred at Giginyu ward, where a woman, identified as Zubaida, was bundled out of the polling unit for alleged vote buying at various polling units in Kano state.

In Ilorin, Kwara state, the operatives of EFCC arrested 20 suspected vote buyers during the gubernatorial and house of assembly elections in the state.
In Niger state, it was reported that one person was killed, and another arrested for vote buying during last Saturday’s elections.

“Operatives of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), monitoring the ongoing governorship and state house of assembly elections have intercepted bales of fabrics meant for voter inducement and arrested a number of persons suspected to be involved in vote buying in some states across the country on Saturday.”

Newspaper reports say that no fewer than three ballot snatchers were killed In Kano, Benue, Lagos and stray bullets hit police officer in Ondo, two shot in Akwa Ibom, INEC staff abducted in Imo.

From the horse’s mouth of the EFCC, no fewer than 65 persons were arrested on Saturday, 18th March 2023 elections across the 28 states where governorship and state houses of assembly elections were conducted, for alleged voter inducements.

With the few reports on what happened in the just concluded elections, then what is the fate of our country? Poverty is ravaging the voters while politicians use that as their bet. Then, there is much to do than cash crunch to sanitise Nigeria’s democracy for the growth of the country because with glare misconduct of elections, corruption will never cease to flourish in Nigeria.

First, elections must be sanitised before anything to address Nigeria’s problems because the efforts of security and financial bodies are waste of time if the voters are so hungry to collect N200 to vote out of interest.

While the victory of the just concluded elections goes to money the commendable efforts of assured transparency goes to EFCC despite its limited staff but worked round the clock and tirelessly to make things work right. Special appreciation goes to all media organisations and media men for updates and awareness to Nigerians. May the efforts of Nigerian media outlets make Nigerians take good lessons from last Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections.

Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim (Goronyo) is a lecturer of Mass Communication Department, Kaduna Polytechnic and writes from Kaduna state. Auwal can be reached on [email protected]