The Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, has said that money politics, vote-buying and selling would continue to undermine the democratic process and prevent the electorates from reaping the dividend of democracy until adequate measures were put in place to check the trend.
Speaking yesterday at a stakeholder forum on Strengthening Accountability Among Civil Society (SANCUS) in Kaduna, Rafsanjani said that money seemed to have taken the centre stage in the political process in Nigeria, to the extent that it has crept into the country’s political vocabulary.
According to him, the meeting was very crucial as it was aimed at informing citizens on the need for transparency in the political process and to advocate for the enforcement of laws guiding political party financing as well as the disadvantages of vote trading.
Rafsanjani said the SANCUS project was being implemented by Transparency International Secretariat through its branches in 21 countries, adding that the programme was being supported by the European Commission.
He added that the project would improve the democratic accountability of public institutions globally by empowering CSOs to demand systemic change.
Rafsanjani said: “A major menace the SANCUS project seeks to address is the issue of vote trading.
“In its literal meaning, vote trading is a form of economic exchange where political parties, its candidates or their agents’ purchase, and the voters “sell” votes as they buy and sell commodities.
“Throughout the world, democracy is adjudged to be the best form of government, but it is being constantly assaulted in Nigeria due to the phenomenon of money politics, vote-buying and selling.
“Money seems to have taken the centre stage in the political process of many countries including that of Nigeria, to the extent that word, “money politics” has crept into the country’s political vocabulary.
“The problem with this situation is that the electoral process is often compromised resulting in elections not being free and fair.”
He said that if the trend is left unchecked, “it will jeopardise the democratisation process and in turn prevent electorates from reaping the dividend of democracy.”
He said the project was planned to address the problem “by advocating for the operational independence of anti-corruption agencies; an increased enforcement of existing anti-money laundering provisions and policies; an improved oversight function of the National Assembly; improve the capacity of the media and civil society to investigate the presence of dirty money in Nigeria’s political processes and increase citizens demand for accountability in the funding of political processes.”
Also, an Assistant Commissioner at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr Hassan Sabiu, said in a goodwill message that CISLAC and Transparency International are important working partners of the commission in the fight against corrupt practices in Nigeria.
He said the ICPC would continue to support projects that would check corruption in the democratic process.
According to him, the SANCUS Project Nigeria is focused on solving the core problem of “dirty money” in Nigerian politics.
Sabiu said: “Same dirty money is viciously utilised to perpetrate corrupt practices in the Nigerian political and electoral processes.
“The givers and takers of dirty money are corrupt people whose offences are punishable under sections 8-26 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act.”