Elections and vote buying have been a nationwide sing-song across the length and breadth of the country. Public commentators in local and international media as well as political analyst and scholars have been having a field day in worship places, traditional media, social media, beer parlors, market squares, offices, and other public places with the conversations raging like wild fire.
A word has been entered into the lexicon of Nigeria’s contemporary society. The word is called “vote buying”. It means selling your birth right or franchise on the day of election in a polling unit against your intentions or conscience to mortgage your future for pea-nuts.
Vote buying is criminal, if you sell your vote and let other people buy your vote, you sell a piece of yourself, you sell a piece of your own integrity, you sell your own independence and influence and really that should not be up for sale.
It is deeply saddening and disappointing that this ugly monster which dominated Ekiti election will be extended to all other parts of the country if care is not taken. Ekiti being one of the states with the largest ‘army’ of sophisticated and highly educated people beats public imagination as it became the Nigeria’s political capital stock market where votes were traded.
Vote buying is a new political terminology that became more pronounced in the political space of this country with the recent Ekiti gubernatorial election as a classical example where both parties wanted to win at all cost and by any means possible.
Electoral democracy into which we were introduced has been characterized by failure in Nigeria, rigging has become our electoral culture and now vote buying is another culture. Now the new order in our democracy emerged through the current politicians of the mould of the 21st century and vote buying which is similar to cancer that defies every medicine till date and will destroy the entire democracies if care is not taken as much as possible.
The National Assembly should enact laws in order to curtail this problem. The judiciary, media, security agencies, National Orientation Agency (NOA), religious organizations and traditional leaders, pressure groups have been identified as having critical roles to play in discouraging this practice.
It is pertinent on the Nigerian electorate to know that our democracies has attained the legal age of maturity but appears as we have not yet started. We are still many miles away from what is expected on us, so it is now left for Nigerians to act wisely and courageously to vote the right candidates.
Bello Shehu Shuni, Sokoto
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