Following reported widespread financial inducement during the June 18 governorship election in Ekiti state, a leading election observer group, Yiaga Africa has said the rising poverty level should not be used as justification for the disturbing trend of vote-buying during elections.
A board member of Yiaga Africa, Ezenwa Nwagwu who spoke during an event organised by the group in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital for Civil Society Organizations tagged, ‘ Post-Election Reflection Meeting with Ekiti CSOs leaders’ noted that financial inducement during election remained a criminal offence in accordance with the Electoral Act and should not be condoned under any guise or excuse.
He explained that election stakeholders including the CSOs must be ready to change the narratives by engaging more with the people on the need to shun the act of selling their votes during elections and vote in accordance with their conscience for the betterment of society.
Nwagwu added that the various technological innovations introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) including the recent Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) have made it difficult for desperate politicians to manipulate election results but now shifted their focus to inducing voters toward compromising the outcome of the electoral process.
He maintained that rising cases of financial inducement in the nation’s electoral system would continue to erode the power of the citizens to hold government accountable after elections, calling on the Ekiti CSOs to play a critical role in changing the mindset of the people on the power of their votes without selling their conscience.
According to him, ” We must say the truth and be sincere with ourselves, vote-buying has no excuse in our electoral process. It is a criminal offence that should be condemned by all stakeholders.
“Poverty is not just for selling and buying of votes during elections, it is purely a crime. This disturbing act in our elections will affect how people can hold govt accountable. The language on vote-buying must change, especially from the CSOs if we are to overcome this challenge in our electoral process.
“What we are doing today is a meeting of solution activism towards improving on gains of the last elections and work on the areas which need attention on the part of INEC, CSOs, media, politicians and the voters.
“Another way forward is continuous engagement. We need more reflective meetings for civil societies to look at how we can improve on our work and ensure that we imbibe the correct language of engagement so that people can believe us and have confidence in the Electoral process.”
While acknowledging Yiaga Africa for its role in credible elections in Nigeria, Chairman Coalition of Ekiti State Civil Society Organizations (COESCSO) Professor Christopher Oluwadare pointed out that the group’s timely information on election early warning signals and pre-election engagements contributed immensely to the success of the June 18 governorship election in the state.
He called for early preparation for election by the stakeholders, especially from the CSOs in their advocacy and sensitization towards achieving the desired results of an improved electoral system.
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