Vote Buying: The Cancer in Nigerian Democracy

Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim (Goronyo)

The 18th of March, 2023 state governors and national assembly members elections were characterized by vote buying and selling. The elections were the kinds I have never seen in all my years of existence, before my eyes people bargaining for the price of their rights for peanut and I wondered where the future of Nigeria goes to?

Democracy is constituted base 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 the 18th state governors and national assembly members elections and the people that sold their rights have no reason to cry when policies of government affected everything about their lives or watch the leaders spending exuberantly and having a live of extravagant with their family because they gave them their own share of the national cake.

And, if leaders could secure power through the means of 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 our courts, the authority and the people could harbor for the development of this country? Truly, my dream for seeing bright future for Nigerians 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, get bail and acquittal for his money. Indeed, the future of Nigeria is in a state of illusions in our dreams of having a prosperous and developed nation.

The attacked on Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) staff in Kaduna state is only just one evidence of how the Saturday's elections was characterized by vote buying inducement in the state. The staff were attacked by hoodlums in a 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 agape to think of what N500 could do for one day?

Money really worked in almost every state that the elections held and I gave 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, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has 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 have 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 have been 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 Kwara state, Illorin, the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) have arrested 20 suspected vote buyers during the gubernatorial and house of assembly elections in the state. 

In Niger, it was reported that one was killed, another arrested for vote buying during the 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 fabric 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."

Report by Nigerian Newspapers say that not fewer than three ballot snatchers were killed In kano, Benue, Lagos and stray bullet hits police officer in Ondo, two Shot In A/Ibom, INEC Staff abducted in Imo.

From the horses mouth of the EFCC, not fewer than 65 persons were arrested on Saturday's 18th March 2023 elections across the 28 states where governorship and state houses of assembly elections were conducted, for alleged voter inducement.

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

First, elections must be sanitize before anything to address Nigeria's problems because the efforts of security and financial bodies are waste of time if they voters are very 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 organizations and media men for updates and awareness to Nigerians, and may the continues efforts of Nigerian media outlets make Nigerians take good lesson from the 18th state governors and national assembly members elections.

Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim (Goronyo) is a lecturer of Mass Communication Department, Kaduna Polytechnic and writes from Kaduna state.

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