Electoral Slavery: Criminalizing Vote Buying
By Tomori Uriel
Politics in the 21 century has witnessed innovations, and technical knowhow, that has made participation easier and more inclusive. With more participation and inclusion, the nature of politics, especially the electoral processes has been dominated with hardened electoral malpractices, such as meddling and vote buying.
Electoral malpractices in Nigeria has begot an hydra headed faceless monster in the form of vote buying. A miscreant means of hooking voters or electoral officials with money, in exchange for their mandate. I am convinced if no serious action is taken to avert this crucifixion of human right, the outcome will provoke more damages in our reviving socioeconomic structure.
Vote buying is an electoral slavery. It is a tool by the powerful to sustain and get more powers, to inflict unquestionable sufferings on the poor and to safe spaces for their cabals. This injurious act can further damage the damaging lungs of our democracy, as exchanging votes for money or food subject our citizens to psychological bondage.
In a mixed economy like ours, dominated with capitalists, who accumulate wealth through political offices, if vote buying thrives, the poor will suffer more. As it will become almost impossible to hold government accountable for its actions and inaction.
Vote buying is no less an abuse on fundamental human right. As it caged the conscience of the voters, with undue pressure to be submissive. With recent testimonies from elections held in some states, if nothing is done to curb this imminent danger, our government will turn sour in the hands of legitimate robbers, called politicians.
Philosophically, this context can be liken to Structural Imperialism, by Johan Galtung. The unhealthy core and periphery relationship. Where the core seek to maintain consistent dominance on the periphery who is constantly been exploited. Politicians in Nigeria are wild political animals, seeking means to exploit the masses and are ever ready to swing to action.
The Independent National Electoral Commission has not done enough to salvage the current situation. The recent call by them to restructure polling units and ban phones at voting centres has no progressive signs. Also, the statement by INEC that it’s incapacitated about prosecuting vote buyer is a danger on our democracy.
Drawing excerpt from the call by SERAP, it is a serious concern that vote buying undermines the ability of INEC to discharge its responsibilities under Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and paragraph 15(a) of the third schedule of the Constitution, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.
If this persist our institutions will become more dysfunctional. This form the rationale for my petition, aimed at calling on the government and INEC to stop vote buying, to prosecute this criminal act by effective legal implementations.
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