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|The Concept Of Vote-buying In Nigeria - Olajengbesi Samuel by osworld1(m): 5:05pm On Jul 25, 2022
The concept of Vote-buying in Nigeria
A vote as defined by the Oxford dictionary is a formal indication of choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands.
In the political phase which this paperwork will focus on, Voting can be seen as a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, to make a collective decision or express an opinion usually following discussions, debates, or elections campaigns. Democracies elect holders of high office by voting. Residents of a place represented by an elected official are called "constituents", and those constituents who cast a ballot for their chosen candidate are called "voters". There are different systems for collecting votes, but while many of the systems used in decision-making can also be used as electoral systems, any which cater to proportional representation can only be used in elections.
Voting in Nigeria has been practiced as far back as in the colonial era when Elective democracy was introduced in Nigeria in May 1919, Though in this period the right to vote in Nigeria can be said to have a rather checkered history due to the fact the right to vote was seen as a direct consequence of property and gender not until 1979 elections when women were allowed for the first time to vote and this made voting a political right and birthed the elective process bedrock in Nigeria and the formation of the different political parties all over the country. The Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) was Nigeria's first political party. Formed in 1923 by Herbert Macaulay to take advantage of the new Clifford Constitution, which succeeded the 1914 Nigerian Council.
Voting has been intertwined into the elective [election] process, in the political landscape election is the formal process of selecting a person for public office or of accepting or rejecting a political proposition by voting. This means the election process cannot be completed without voting.
By Sec 40, 77, and 7 of the 1999 federal republic of Nigeria constitution as amended grants all citizens of Nigeria the right to vote and be voted for. The Electoral Act of 2022 which repealed the 2010 Act is the law that guides the conduct of elections and voting in Nigeria
VOTE BUYING is a form of bribery that corrupts the electoral process, it’s seen as the criminal manipulation of the election process and in the legal purview, it can be seen as the reward given to a person for voting in a particular way or for not voting. it is a complex undemocratic phenomenon that cut across many countries in the world, especially developing countries.
Based on the concept of democracy voting should be based on ideology and merit even though in our present Nigeria political landscape Election and voting based on these ideals are rarely found because the fatter your pocket the chances are there at times for you to win. This is achievable by vote-buying.
This menace is seen in elections of party executives, primary elections, or internal and external inter-party elections. Vote-buying transactions include money, food, beverages, other commodities and clothing, and at times employment. In the case of cash rewards or price for votes the amount tipped depends on the financial capabilities and strength of the candidate and/or the political party. In some jurisdictions, they call it stomach infrastructure. In more disturbing cases cooked food and even sachet water has been used to persuade electorates to cast their votes.
In the 28 September 2016 gubernatorial election in Edo, observers reported massive vote-buying by the two main political parties, the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The parties were accused of giving N3 000 to N4 000 for votes in several polling units. Similarly, in the 26 November 2016 governorship election in Ondo State, it was observed that members of the APC, the PDP, and the Alliance for Democracy were giving money to voters at most polling centers across the state. Some polling stations in Odigbo, Okitipupa, and Ilaje local government areas were given N450 000 while each voter got between N3 000 and N5 000”.
In the 18 November 2017 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, many observers condemned the brazen incidences of vote-buying during the poll, stating that the level of commercialization of the vote was an eyesore to democracy. In particular, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room noted that “even more lamentable was the fact that the buying and selling of votes took place in the full glare of security men and election officials. It was simply a bazaar in which the election officials and security agencies were undoubtedly complicit”.
The 2019 Presidential primary election of Nigeria’s leading opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party held on the 6th and 7th October 2018 in Port Harcourt Rivers State of Nigeria. Votes were traded and sold both in the US dollars and Nigeria naira. The confirmation of delegate inducement, bribery and corruption, and vote-buying was confirmed by Vanguard Newspaper. There have been numerous reports of Vote buying in the just concluded APC presidential primary elections where it was reported that delegates were being paid a handsome amount of money in US Dollars just to vote for a candidate. During a joint public hearing by the National Assembly on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Chairman Senate Committee on INEC Senator Suleiman Nazif blamed the crime of vote-buying on certain factors that include “poverty, unemployment, lack of stringent punitive measures, lawlessness, laxity of law enforcement agencies, insufficient voter education and ignorance, among others.” Also, failure to prosecute vote buyers even when caught constitutes another problem in fighting the crime of vote-buying. According to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, “although penalties for these electoral offenses are not stringent, there is also lack of political will to implement the laws as it is, even if it is to offer feeble deterrence to violators. Arrests are hardly made and even where arrests are made, prosecutions are unheard
The most prominent example can be found in the just concluded Ekiti state election there were news and even videos of youths and people of Ekiti state celebrating the sales of their vote, using the slogan ‘Dibo Ko Sebe’ meaning vote and make soup.
Vote buying is a Crime
It’s against the social morale belief system in the society, in a country like Nigeria where religion is the bedrock of every individual life vote-buying is seen as a sign of dishonesty and against the God-like standard
Vote buying is the emerging rigging method used by politicians and their agents. It corrupts the electoral process and it is an act of corruption. It is a punishable offense under Nigerian law. It is against Section 124 (1) (a) to (c) of the Electoral Act as amended. There cannot be vote-buying without vote selling is an open form of bribery that substantially corrupts the Nigerian electoral system.” It is an electoral fraud or offense that the Nigerian Electoral Act frowns at. Upon conviction, an electoral offense convict can be liable for a fine or a prison term. According to the Sub Section (4) electoral Act Supra
The Nigerian Court of Appeal in the case of Saadu V. Afolabi equally termed bribery in election as criminal conduct. According to the Court, ‘Any person acting contrary to the provisions of this section commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N100,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or both.’
In one of his Commentary Human rights lawyer Mr. Femi Falana insisted that for the electoral process to be more credible in the country, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must ensure that politicians involved in vote-buying are prosecuted.
The effect of vote-buying is so adverse that it needs to be curtailed quickly in other to save the future of Nigeria
The consequences of vote-buying are manifold. In the first instance, it unduly raises the cost of elections thereby shutting out contestants with little finances and promoting political corruption. When victory is purchased rather than won fairly, it leads to state capture. It equally compromises the credibility, legitimacy, and integrity of elections. Vote-buying undermines the integrity of elections as the winners are often the highest bidders and not necessarily the most popular or credible contestants
It, therefore, discourages conscientious people from participating in electoral politics and causes citizens to lose faith in state institutions.
Vote trading equally tends to perpetuate bad governance. It not only compromises the well-being of those who sold their vote for instant gratification but also the future of those who did not sell their votes but are inevitably exposed to bad governance that results from such a fraudulent process. For every vote traded, many people will suffer the unintended consequences when the traded votes make the difference between winning and losing in the election.
Vote-buying needs to be controlled by Institutions such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria Police, Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission (KPACC) are the major body that monitors parties, candidate and including the voters’ behaviors during elections period in other to have a creditable result.
INEC has the responsibility to monitor the political party spending and in particular, has the mandate to prosecute electoral offenders. They must ensure that the capital-intensive nature for which our elections have been turned is addressed. Cases of voter, delegate, and legislature buying must be investigated and prosecuted. Only through this we can sanitize and stop the crime and misconduct of voter buying.
The EFCC chairman in one of his addresses revealed that the agency plans to work with INEC and related agencies to track politicians and individuals who engage in vote-buying and selling in Nigeria’s electoral process. According to the Chairman “we are working with INEC to stop vote-buying, we are seriously pursuing this, though it’s evident that no serious action has been taken on this, the display of searching bags at the just concluded presidential primary elections in Nigeria was just a show-off but not necessitating a serious manhunt for vote-buying because no one was going to come to the said ground with a bag full of money to share to the delegates but even at that there show of mirage is worth commending.
The Nigerian police have a great role in fighting vote-buying and prosecution of deviant voters and politicians. They have to demonstrate that they are capable of fighting this malaise.
Vote buying is a very serious and complex democratic ill that affects democratic processes. As a form of bribery, it is criminal and from a democratic perspective a subversion of democracy. It is antithetical to democratic accountability. As a crime and socio-political ill, it is against the participatory and free, and fair election and equally subverts good governance. It is a clog in the democratic wheel. It is an unwise business in our young democracy. It is the result of bad governance and an embarrassment to the nation. To be addressed, legal and institutional mechanisms are very necessary. Most importantly there is an urgent need for attitudinal change from the perspective of the voters. It is electoral misconduct as bad and illegal and as ballot stuffing that requires all stakeholders ranging from law enforcement agencies, the political parties, the media, civil society organizations, and the entire citizenry. Unless this scourge is addressed it will destroy our democracy.
Law Student- Adeleke University
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