Sunday 16 September 2018


'Vote buying endangers the validity of election results; undermines public trust in the democratic system and negatively affects post-election politics, government accountability and public perceptions of that accountability.'
Jessica Leight et al (2016): 'Value for money in buying votes:                                                                  Vote buying and voter behaviour in the laboratory'

'Vote buying obstructs the democratic process by interfering with the rights of citizens to freely decide who would represent them and their interests. As a matter of fact, vote buying practices create an unbalance between parties that have access to material resources (e.g. incumbent parties) and parties deprived of these resources.'

YIAGA Africa (2018): 'Duly elected or duly purchased?:                                                                        Report on vote buying & selling in the 2018 Ekiti                                                                                    Governorship Elections

'I held 250 town hall meetings. I articulated solutions to our problems in my constituency. My opponent did not campaign at all. He gathered money and showed up one day to elections. He distributed money. He won. Africans are not moved by ideas. Their stomach leads them.'

Prof. Patrick Lumumba (Kenyan)

'In Africa, politics is regarded as warfare and politicians perceive opponents as enemies who must be destroyed with any conceivable instruments available. The real challenge is when and how we can get out this mercantile and adversarial politics in Africa.'

Late Professor Claude Ake
Political Scientist

'Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.'

Abraham Lincoln
Late/Former American President (POTUS)

The quotes above adequately capture the mood of participants at the public presentation on the 14th of September 2018 of the Report on vote buying and selling in the 2018 Ekiti off-cycle Governorship elections, titled 'Duly elected or duly purchased...'  There was a video documentary by Amplified Radio on vote buying in Osun state. Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA Africa gave a succinct presentation on the report.

For me, the keynote address by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu was very significant. He categorically condemned vote buying and selling (VBS) in Nigeria with a promise to continually fine tune creative ways of preventing and punishing the culprits whether they are buyers or sellers. He noted that the conduct of elections was improving. Vote buyers and sellers have resorted to this shameful, corrupt and anti-democratic act because rigging through ballot snatching etc in elections is becoming more difficult with the introduction of the following measures:

*The location of each polling unit is now specific. There are about 993,423 polling units in Nigeria and smart card readers are tailored to suit each polling booth.
*The Continuous Voter Register (CVR) is displayed for a minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 7 days in the 8,809 wards
*Each of the 91 currently registered Political Parties would receive the CVR before the 2019 elections.
*There is no more declaration of results while some voters are still on the queue, yet to vote!
*INEC is now more transparent. You can access so much information on their website.
*Appeals against election results are no longer secret. They can now be accessed on the internet.
*Pink copies of the EC6OE Form ('People's Result Sheet') are issued to Political Parties.
*There is massive deployment of ICT for transparency. This makes it difficult to thumbprint ballot papers.
*The implication of all these is that votes now count!

These are indeed comforting and re-assuring words from the Electoral Umpire. Prof. Yakubu went further to say that vote buyers and sellers would be curbed using the following steps and more:

1) Better administration of Polling Units to prevent VBS. VBS takes place between the voting cubicle and the ballot box.
-It may be necessary to prevent voters from being in possession of their mobile phones before approaching the voting cubicle.
-The sitting arrangement of polling agents could be re-shuffled to prevent them from accessing information as regards who a particular voter voted for.
-CCTVs could be installed at polling units.

2) Increased voter education/sensitisation.

3) Further training of security agents as regards how to handle VBS.

4) Enforcement of laws against VBS. For example, Sec. 124-130 of the Electoral Act criminalises VBS. Both the buyers and sellers should be prosecuted. The Electoral Act says INEC should prosecute offenders. But INEC has no Police to arrest, detain, investigate and prosecute offenders!

5) INEC should elicit the cooperation of security agencies for sting operations to intercept sudden cash movements in the election season.

6) The Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) should play a more active advocacy role among Political Parties on the dangers of VBS for the polity.

Page 29 of the report highlights the following steps to reduce and eventually eliminate vote selling and buying. Many of the steps corroborate the position of the participants at the event:

*Poverty reduction
*Comprehensive war on corruption
*Restoration of the ideological bases for political parties
*Reversal of rising unemployment
*Good governance
*Improved management of election security
*Introduction of electronic voting system
*Enforcement of electoral laws

On the whole, kudos to the articulate Samson Itodo and the YIAGA Africa team for professionally putting together the very first report on VBS in Nigeria. Such collaboration between civil society and INEC would ensure the continuous improvement of the electoral process. Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, Chair, INEC also deserves accolades for re-assuring citizens that all measures are being put in place to ensure that their votes count...

This is my 100th blog post! It's indeed worth celebrating. I have come a very long way since 2014, dishing out content related to my niche...

12th November, 2018

*Nigeria battles enduring problem: Rigging
*Bye-elections 2020: Low turnout, commercialisation of votes, assault on voting rights, etc.underline the need to priroritise electoral reforms
*Crafting credible election Commissions (EMBs) in West Africa
*A High Court in Akwa Ibom state has sentenced Peter Ogban, a Professor of Soil Science @ the University of Calabar, to three years in prison for manipulating election results


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