BACKGROUND TO DELIBERATIONS
The Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) with support from the MacArthur Foundation held a town hall meeting against corruption on February 28th, 2021. The theme of the town hall meeting was; ELIMINATING VOTE BUYING AND CORRUPTION DURING ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA.
The meeting aimed at discouraging citizens from selling votes which mortgages their future every four years, and politicians from mounting pressure and offering money and gifts to buy votes.
The attention of political parties and the public was also drawn to the evils of vote trading.
Participants and speakers at the meeting highlighted the dangers vote trading portends for Nigeria’s politics, democracy, and development, as well as proffered solutions to end it.
The participants include Shehu Gabam, National Secretary, Social Democratic Party; Amos Dunia, Editor-In-Chief, Forefront Magazine, and Online; Ezenwa Nwagwu, Convener, Say No Campaign; Fidelia Usman, Practitioner, Joe Abraham’s SAN & Co.; Emmanuel Edet, Executive Director, Youngsmart Development Initiative.
In the course of deliberation, participants at the town hall meeting noted the following:
– Vote buying is a criminal act according to the law.
– Vote buying is a deliberate creation of poverty by politicians to enable them to occupy their desired political offices.
– Politics has now become the only available job for politicians, hence the increasing rate of vote-buying.
– With electronic voting, Nigeria might be able to reduce the incidence of vote-buying or other forms of voter inducement.
– Poverty is one of the consequences of vote-buying
– Poor awareness against voter inducement helping vote-buying gain ground in Nigeria elections.
– Vote-buying gained prominence as a result of competition between the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
– National Orientation Agency not sensitizing citizens enough on the dangers of vote-buying.
The government also benefits from vote-buying.
– It is the responsibility of the government to sensitize Nigerians on vote-buying.
– Vote-buying starts from delegate nomination (internal party election).
– Political parties have commercialized candidates’ nomination tickets.
– Laws and penalties for vote-buying are not stringent enough to discourage people.
– Vote-buying breeds arrogance, no accountability by political officeholders.
– Lack of deterrent laws and punishment are the reasons why people buy or sell votes.
– Perpetrators of vote-buying are not brought to book because most of them are backed by politicians.
– Enforcement of the law against vote-buying is a major challenge in Nigeria.
– Government not harnessing the potential of youths in Nigeria.
– Nigeria needs an all-encompassing framework to address vote-buying.
– Sensitization of citizens and youths on the dangers of vote-buying must be taken seriously as a nation.
– Nigerians must guide their votes at all-time.
– Nigeria must take enforcement of laws against vote trading seriously.
– Vote trading in Nigeria is complicated, hence requires the coming together of stakeholders to address the dangers
– The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should be truly independent.
– Security operatives must be patriotic when involved in the conduct of elections.
– Institutional structures in Nigeria must be allowed to work without interference.
– Security agencies must be answerable to INEC on election day.
– The minds of the youth should be transformed against selling their votes.
– Voter education should be prioritized at the grassroots.
Media and Communications Officer