By Henry Uche
Amidst thrills and worries beclouding tomorrow’s gubernatorial election in Osun State, the HEDA Resource Centre & Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre (WARDC) have issued a stern warning to electorate regarding trading their votes for mundane gratifications at their peril.
At a press conference in Oshogbo, the groups called on security agencies, INEC and other well meaning stakeholders to save Nigeria from democracy assassination being perpetuated by desperadoes across divide.
Olanrewaju Suraju, chairman of HEDA, said, “We are calling on the well-meaning people of Osun State (electorates) in the governorship election tomorrow to shun the criminal act of selling their votes.
“We urge the electorates to come out en-masse to cast their votes and be part of selecting their own leader for the next four years through a credible electoral process. This God-given right should be honoured and not traded. It is not a commodity to sell, but a right to be exercised. Selling vote is criminal, casting it is the ideal,”
Suraju maintained that votebuying is done more in secrecy, hence the need to shine the spotlight and preach the homily to the two key stakeholders in the criminal act of vote-buying – that is the vote sellers (electorates) and the vote buyers (political parties and their agents). We commend the role of EFCC during the recently conducted Ekiti Election.
“The implication of vote-buying is far reaching – it makes difficult calling leaders to account since they paid their ways to the position occupied and beyond that, it affects the economy and living conditions as leaders would have no moral obligation to make life better for the citizens,”
The anti corruption crusader added that the issue of vote-buying remains about the biggest threat to a credible election in Nigeria and it remains a leading cause for concern as the Country edges close to the 2023 General Elections.
“You must be resolute and vote conscientiously regardless of the potentials for inducement which will be tantamount to selling their future and that of their children for immediate gains, a situation which will obviously result in an even worse socio-economic situation than they currently have,”
On her part, the Executive Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi,
stressed that Osun State tomorrow will be yet another test for Nigeria’s democratic consolidation and its fidelity to laws and rules guiding the electoral process.
According to her, the June 18 Governorship election in Ekiti State was rattled with gross allegations of reckless vote-buying so much that it triggered reaction from the authorities including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which arrested perpetrators including party agents, however, Osun State election is expected to be more credible, fair and transparent.
“WARDC in collaboration with other civil society organizations endorse the various calls by stakeholders including editorials by media houses, to shun vote-buying and ensure credible electoral process in the Osun State governorship election. The last Gubernatorial Election in Ekiti State was a test for the depth of Nigeria’s democracy. For Osun gubernatorial election, we don’t expect a repeat of any act of electoral fraud,”
“There are calls for adequate security architecture to curb this phenomenon in the forthcoming governorship election here in Osun State. The Inspector-General of Police, Baba Alkali, had warned that the police would not take it lightly with persons or groups seeking to perpetrate vote-buying or any form of inducement in the elections, we don’t expect less from them,”
Akiode-Afolabi revealed that making public office holders accountable becomes negatively affected where the processes informing their emergence were largely compromised by vote-buying. Under such circumstances, the grip of corruption becomes quick to sight and preventing such becomes a difficult necessity.
“No doubt, politicians and the ruling class have weaponised poverty to perpetuate themselves in power, however, the citizen must, as a matter of necessity breakaway from the susceptibility to cheap inducement of trading a fortune for short term immediate gain.
“Therefore, we call on the electorates in Osun States and by extension, Nigerians at large, to echo the campaign against vote-buying and other forms of electoral malpractices, not only because it is criminal, but also because it is the root of bad governance, insecurity and corruption, a situation which has pushed the Country to the brink of collapse.
“Many of the votebuyers have alternatives and do not bother much if the country collapses, however, as a common people, knowing that we have nowhere else to call our own, the need for massive campaign against vote-buying cannot be overemphasised.
The advocate for good governance called on the political gladiators – parties, candidates and agents – to conduct themselves in the most honourable manner. We urge them to avoid all manners of voter-inducement and vote-buying to allow the State produce the best and legitimate person for the number one position in the State. “Let the competence and credibility of candidates sell them without parties resorting to foul plays” she implored.