John Adams, Minna
The Coalition of Civil Society, a domestic election observer group, has described as worrisome incidents of vote buying by politicians during the just concluded general elections in the country, saying that the trend, if not checked, will undermine democracy in Nigeria.
The group, which monitored the entire elections in Niger State, said that it had observed that prevalent vote buying by the two main political parties, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP), a practice that was a hallmark of both Presidential/National Assembly and governorship/state houses of assembly elections.
Addressing newsmen in Minna on Tuesday, the group’s team leader and Secretary General of the Campaign for Democracy, Abdullahi Jabi, pointed out that unless drastic action is taken to curb what he described as the “negative electoral tendency introduced by desperate politicians into our body polity,” the country’s democracy will be sold to the highest bidders.
Apart from the vote buying phenomenon, which almost tarnished the credibility of the entire elections, the conduct of the election in the state was generally peaceful, devoid of violence, Jabi said, stressing that “INEC preparedness for the 2019 general election was well crafted out with adequate preparation.”
“Each of their programme of activities was subjected to public scrutiny to ensure public interest and confidence in the process to ensure free, fair and peaceful conduct of the elections.”
Jabi maintained that, though the primary function of the domestic observer group was to observe the process, procedure and conduct of all actors involved in election duty on field towards ensuring integrity of the election process, collation of results still remains a big challenge in the electoral process.
“We, therefore, suggest the use of modified electronic device technology to fast track the process of collation of results to save time and the man hour wasted in the collation of result,” he recommended.
While commending INEC for conducting “a violence-free elections in Niger State”, the observer group urged the electoral body to improve on the quality of ad hoc staff engaged, stressing that in addition to adequate training and capacity building, the welfare allowance of the staff should be paid promptly to avoid connivance with money bag politicians.
Jabi also advised aggrieved politicians to always take a civilized approach of seeking redress in a court or tribunal, instead of resorting to violence to create unnecessary tension and breach of public peace.
“It is a constitutional right of any Nigerian that participated in election process to, if not satisfied, approach the court by seeking redress lawfully,” he said.