Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of no fewer than 70 civil society organisations (CSOs), has called for urgent legislation to tackle the challenge of vote buying in Nigeria’s elections.
The Convener of the group, Clement Nwankwo, in a statement on Sunday after monitoring the just-concluded governorship election, said that the “worrying trend of vote-buying” had escalated to desperate levels.
Nwankwo said that the major political parties shared blame in this act.
“This trend portends grave danger to Nigeria’s democracy as it undermines the responsibility of citizens to freely choose their leaders and threatens the essence of democracy.
“Vote-buying represents a major setback to the gains made with Nigeria’s electoral process and denies citizens the power to hold elected official accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of Nigerians.
“Vote-buying is also a threat to the emergence of women as elected representatives with the increasing cost of electoral politics,” he said.
Nwankwo said that the Situation Room observed widespread financial inducement around many polling units.
He said that in some cases, the location and positioning of the polling booths and ballot boxes contributed to the non-secrecy of the ballot and vote-buying, adding that major political parties were quite culpable in the breach.
According to him, the widespread nature and brazenness of vote-buying by political parties and candidates create dent on the outcome of any election and raises concern that Nigeria’s electoral process is being monetised with impunity.