Vote buying: YIAGA-Africa canvasses for laws to address electoral loopholes

Vote buying: YIAGA-Africa canvasses for laws to address electoral loopholes

- A dialogue on the scourge of vote buying in Nigeria was held on Friday, September 14, in Abuja

- The event was put together by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa

- The theme of the event was: “Ending the Scourge of Vote Buying and Selling in Nigerian Elections”

A Civil Society Organisation, YIAGA Africa on Friday, September 14, called for adequate laws to address the loopholes in Nigeria's electoral process especially the reoccurring issues of vote buying and selling.

Executive Director, YIAGA-Africa, Mr Samson Itodo made the call at the Watching the Vote (WTV) Series with the theme “Ending the Scourge of Vote Buying and Selling in Nigerian Elections” in Abuja.

Itodo, while presenting a document on “Duly Elected or Duly Purchased,’’ a report on vote buying in the Ekiti election, said Nigeria’s democracy was under threat due to vote buying.

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According to him, corruption is a societal challenge that manifests in every facet of life in Nigeria.

“It concerns conducts by the giver and the taker of inappropriate inducement as is the case with perpetrators of vote buying.

“Electoral laws must accommodate the various loopholes for corruption in the conduct of elections and see to the discharge of adequate punishment to offenders,’’ he said.

He lamented that competence and character were no longer the parameters for assessing electoral candidates by Nigerians, stressing that cash-for-vote or “see and buy’’ was emerging as the major determinant of electoral choice which could undermine electoral choices and imperil Nigeria’s democracy.

He said that vote buying also had a tendency to aggravate corruption in public offices as those who hold public mandates were made to seek corrupt means of enriching themselves toward elections.

He informed the audience that YIAGA Africa through its WTV project undertook a post-election investigation to examine the factors that facilitated it.

He said the study, which entailed identifying the chain of operation and methods of vote buying before, during and after elections as well as the implication, identified five drivers.

“Poverty and hunger influence the vulnerability to vote buying. Vote buying is indeed an exploitation of the poor within our society.

“Failure of political office holders to fulfill their campaign promises makes vote selling attractive as citizens look for instant gratification from elections,’’ he added.

He recommended behavioural change as the best measure against vote purchase and other electoral malfeasance, even as he advocated that political positions should be made less attractive by reducing perquisites that awaited successful candidates.

Itodo also called for poverty reduction, a comprehensive war on corruption, restoration of ideological bases for political parties, reversal of rising unemployment and promotion of good governance.

He further suggested improved management of election security, introduction of electronic voting system and enforcement of electoral laws among others.

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Meanwhile, YIAGA Africa WTV has expressed concern over the delay in the signing of the electoral amendment bill into law.

The group made its stance known on the delay at a press conference on the status of the electoral amendment bill in Abuja on Monday, September 10.

They called on the executive and National Assembly to work together to conclude all the electoral amendments by the end of September 2018.

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