The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa, a Civil Society Organisation on Friday called for laws to address loopholes in the electoral process especially vote buying.
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.
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.’’
Itodo said this had become imperative because competence and character were no longer the parameters for assessing electoral candidates by Nigerians.
He said 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.
Itodo said that concerned by the emerging trend of see and buy, 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.
He listed them to be: Poverty and hunger, improved checks and balances in the electoral process by INEC as well as non-payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.
Others included failure of political office holders to fulfil campaign promises and neglect of rural communities in distribution of infrastructure.
The executive director said online transaction, various gifts and food items, suspicious empowerment programmes were some of the methods deployed to purchase votes during the Ekiti election.
He recommended behavioural change as the best measure against vote purchase and other electoral malfeasance.
He also 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.