The Sale And Purchase Of Votes Undermines Our electoral Values, By Oyewole Michael Rolex
First, I like to impress on our consciousness that all major political parties in Nigeria induce the electorate financially to buy their votes. In plain words, votes are sold by the electorate and are bought by major political parties, sometimes the highest bidder wins the day. Read an article recently where the author was querying that where did political actors get such huge amount of money to throw around during electioneering period in a recessed economy? I have always being a part of those who have often times vociferously condemned electorates who give their votes in exchange for financial or material gains. But, as I looked deeper after the just concluded Edo and Ondo States elections respectively, i came to the realization of something vital that made me have a paradigm shift.
Truth be told, this act of voting for the highest bidder has robbed us of the opportunity to produce responsible leaders who would deliver to the electorate the dividend of democracy. This act has further made the political class to consciously renege on all campaign promises made as they must accrue all the monies spent to purchase your votes immediately they get into office. This act has made the political class feel they owe us no obligations to ameliorate the living conditions of the electorate as they feel they have paid you for a span of four years. This act has endangered the future of our unborn children/wards as they have been bereft of positive legacies they naturally ought to consolidate on. This act has rubbished the core values of democracy. This act has made bamboozle more easier for the political class. This act has made the political class to be able to hold tight onto power even when they performed woefully in previous years or offices held occupied. This act if not curbed portends a grave danger to our dear country, Nigeria.
Some analyst were of the opinion that the recent Government at the Central has deliberately created hardship just for the purpose of winning elections via purchase of votes. Reason may tend one to hold true this posit as it was evidenced in recently conducted elections. Well, this majorly isn’t the purpose of this piece.
I noticed that votes are being purchased for as low as five hundred Naira (#500:00) and as high as twenty thousand Naira (#20,000:00), of course this sum also depends largely on what the opposing parties offers. Hunger, hopelessness and poverty has made the electorate to sell their votes without recourse to the long time consequences of their action. Do you blame them? For me, no. Based on this premise, take for instance, a man who has left his wife and children at home hungry, school fees unpaid and someone at the polling center is readily offering between #2,000 to #20,000 as the case may be. The man begins to think of his wife and children at home and how helpful such an amount of money would be at meeting the immediate needs, such a man will gladly sell his vote just to put food on the table. Or a mother who has no clear means of livelihood and has children to cater for, she would never think of the long term implications, her senses will be inclined towards how to meet up with immediate financial demands. And so on and so forth. Do not underestimate the influence of hunger or how low an electorate who has no legitimate source of income would go.
These political class understands this and has obviously taken advantage of this to their own gain.
Although, I strongly condemn in strong terms the act of selling and buying of votes. This act is gradually becoming a norm. Sad still, security operatives whose shoulder rest the onus to apprehend and bring to justice those inducing voters are even the ones actively supervising the deed.
For the sake of the future of this country, the development of our country, the prosperity of generations yet unborn and to give credence to Electoral values, we all must unite and stand tall and endure current hardship and vote in line with our conscience and the credibility of candidates seeking public offices. STOP THE SALES AND PURCHASE OF VOTES AS THIS UNDERMINES OUR VALUES.
Oyewole Michael Rolex writes from Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State and can be reached via @Rolex7Michael or 08038796168.