..•Nwodo, Mantu, Yakassai, Adeniran, Olujimi, others speak
By Emmanuel Aziken, Henry Umoru, Dirisu Yakubu, Rotimi Ojomoyela and Omeiza Ajayi
A week ago today many Nigerians had their hearts focused on the governorship election going on in Ekiti State. However, for those who were on ground in Ekiti for the election, their eyes were focused on the running business of selling of votes as voters readily exchanged their votes for cash.
The illicit transaction of votes for cash started the day before when voters were allegedly herded into the Government House to collect N4,000 to support the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate, Prof. Olusola Eleka. Civil servants and pensioners also had their fill as their salary accounts were credited supposedly to mobilise them for the election.
On Election Day, it was the turn of the All Progressives Congress, APC which by several accounts disbursed as much as N10,000 to those who could prove to party agents that they voted for the party. What a voter needed to do was to use his or her phone camera to snap the ballot paper showing that the vote was cast for the APC.
Showing the evidence to the party agent automatically meant the receipt of N10,000, a phenomenon that immediately generated the phrase, “see and buy.”
The phenomenon of vote buying even though a nagging specter to the country’s democratic culture took a worrisome dimension in the Edo State governorship election in 2016 and has subsequently progressed through elections in Ondo and Anambra States before last weekend.
The phenomenon in Ekiti State is, however, provoking sharp reactions including from key political actors.
The PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondinyan, speaking on a Channels Television programme earlier this week was quick to rebuff claims that his party purchased votes on Election Day daring anyone to show evidence that PDP agents gave any one money on the day of the election.
However, challenged on the fact that the party gave out money before the election, he said that “whatever anyone does before the election is regarded as part of the electioneering process.”
In flaying the alleged inducement of voters on Election Day, Ologbondinyan apparently citing the loud presence of APC governors notably, Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) said:
“The governors of other states, particularly the neighbouring states came to Ado-Ekiti and came to Ekiti State generally and got agents to be doing buying and selling of votes.”
“What happened in Ekiti was an open-day robbery. And that is why our party has in its entirety rejected the process and outcome. What happened was a complete fraud,” he added.
Senator Arise, however, spoke to the contrary saying:
“The PDP started buying votes two days before the election, they were sending money. They sent money to all the voters,” he said.
“They came to tell us that these people (PDP agents) have bought all the votes already. We now said, if PDP is buying votes, these people will now be asking you for money.”
While refusing to admit that his party’s agents gave out money to counter what the PDP gave out the day before, Arise said:
“As far as I am concerned, what happened in Ekiti is one of the challenges that we as Nigerians must find a solution for because somebody started buying votes and you do not expect me to sit back.”
Some stakeholders were tasked on the development and they spoke thus:
Ekiti was not a good sign – Ibrahim Mantu, former Deputy President of Senate
“I believe that Nigerians have seen enough of all the rot in the system, Nigerians have seen that money that they are given on the day of election does not actually solve the problem.
“Yes we can say what we saw in Ekiti State on Saturday was not a very good sign, but that notwithstanding, I believe that very soon even those people who took money to vote will see that the money has not solved their problems.
“So, I believe that quality rather than money will be the deciding factor and I hope that between now and that time that politicians are going to do a lot of sensitization, a lot mobilization, a lot education to make people vote in accordance to their conscience and to vote quality rather than take money from the politicians and have temporary solutions to their problems.”
Ekiti was like a bad movie – Adeniran
Former Minister of Education and a chieftain of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Professor Tunde Adeniran said:
“The Ekiti experience was a bad movie and all genuine patriots and democrats have been shaken sufficiently enough to appreciate the dangers ahead and would do the needful to save Nigeria from those scheming to buy votes and put the country on sale.
“There is no doubt that money will influence the process leading to the 2019 general elections but this will not determine the outcome. Many of us who believe that this country should not be put on sale to the highest bidder are determined to put together a formidable and winning alliance to rescue Nigeria.”
Integrity must be put in our electoral process —Senator Saidu Dansadau
“The fundamental policy of our party, The National Rescue Movement (NRM) is that integrity is first, all other things will follow. In fact in our agenda of policy, money is at the tail end.
“We plan and we are resolute in substantially reducing the use of money in Nigerian politics because it is our opinion in the NRM that it is the use of money that has polluted and destroyed our democratic process towards becoming an emerging democracy and then a developed democracy.
“And still at the tail of the list, we down play the use of money and we bring to the fore credibility, there is no way we can’t make it and at this point we are, we cannot afford to make mistake again.
“And that is why we said, in fact next week Monday we are going to launch our policy of minimizing the use of money which we call “not too poor to run”. Not too young to run is a ploy in the sense that you have given the Nigerian youth one thing with the right hand and you have taken it away with the left hand.
“You know it that in the 2015 election PDP and APC to buy form for presidential ticket is 25million and to buy form to contest for governorship was between 10million and 15million.
“Now where does a 30 year old young man will get 15milliion to just buy form and also where will a 35year old that you said is qualified for contest for president will get 25million to buy just a form?
“So what we are saying in the NRM is that it is not money we are actually looking for, we are looking for credible Nigerians that has the capacity to provide good governance in this country.
“And so therefore even our presidential aspirants will not buy NRM form even with up to half a million.
“Soon we are going to decide, we are having our next executive meeting on Tuesday 24th of July and we are going to decide on the amount that would be paid for forms at all levels, it is going to be a negligible amount.
“And we have resolved earlier on, that in whichever constituency we have a candidate that is unopposed because of his integrity, we will give him the form free and that goes to show that for us money is secondary while integrity is primary.”
Ekiti was a totally new phenomenon – Yakassai
Alhaji Tanko Yakassai who served as National Assembly Liaison Officer in the President Shehu Shagari government, said, “what happened in Ekiti is a new phenomenon in Nigeria’s history because the complaint was that security operatives connived with one of the parties to look the other way when the party was actually violating the electoral laws, bribing people openly, buying votes and so on.
“It is not a good commentary on the electoral commission which is supposed to be an umpire, it is not a good commentary on the security forces, there is no doubt about the fact that the media has reported that even at the time when the election was taking place, that money was changing hands openly; it is not a good commentary on the part of the two organisations.
“But apart from that, it is a very serious source for concern against the 2019 elections. If the security people will connive with a political party for the election to be shortchanged then it is alarming and I hope the whole nation will be aware of this dangerous situation and before the time of the election, a definite step will be taken to ensure that something like this does not happen again.”
We must try integrity now —Nwodo
Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo said, “we have tried money and money has failed us. We have tried everything and it has failed us but the only thing we have not tried is integrity and until we have leaders with integrity whose primary concern is that of the ordinary people of Nigeria we cannot move forward.
“So if at this time Nigerians don’t know what type of leaders to look for, we cannot blame God and cannot blame any other person, we cannot blame Ghanaians or any other country, we have to blame ourselves.
“I think we have suffered enough now that we should be able to know what is good for all of us.”
Money was a major factor in Ekiti – Senator Biodun Olujimi
On her part, the Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Biodun Olujimi, PDP, Ekiti said, “there is so much to be done to get our democracy back on track. The way it was in Ekiti, if continued, will derail democracy. Money was a major factor.”
PDP paid for votes – Senator Tayo Alasoadura, APC, Ondo,
“Money was used in Ekiti by PDP e.g. payment of N10000 to civil servants/ teachers accounts. They also transferred an amount of 3000 to every civil servant / teachers accounts and yet they failed. People took money and voted according to their conscience.”
We must move away from politics of money —Dr. Umar Ardo
Also speaking with Saturday Vanguard, a PDP governorship aspirant in Adamawa State, Dr. Umar Ardo said,
“Of course there will be no argument that what should come first is the people, the country and everything must be geared towards that. So anything that inhibits these things is a disruption to progress.
“Nigeria needs to move away from politics of money, politics of religion, politics of sentiments to politics of issues, real issues.
“What we don’t seem to realise is that a failed Nigeria is an indictment to the black man, it is a confirmation that the black man is the lowest of the low among mankind, we shouldn’t have that, we shouldn’t carry this toga and the responsibility to remove that is in Nigeria, is for Nigeria; if we fail we have failed the black race.”
Vote-buying can’t determine outcome of 2019 Polls —Elder Anthony Sani, ACF Scribe
“From what I have read, the allegations of vote buying were done by all the political parties. If it is true, it is a sad commentary on party politics. But the bright side is the fact that the turnout was impressive and the elections went smoothly without the expected violence.
“That might be an odd thing to say, especially when regard is paid to the fact that there is limit to what vote buying can go. It is not easy to buy hundred thousands of people during general elections. Vote buying is effective during primaries elections through delegates who are few.”
“But on the whole, the exercise in Ekiti State showed the people made judicious use of their democratic rights and ensured their votes counted. That might explain the narrow gap of only about 19,000 votes in favor of the victor. If vote buying played any significant role, the difference in number of votes would have been much higher. So, encourage Nigerians to take charge and determine the direction of our democracy through judicious use of their democratic rights so that the ensuing winners will be accountable to the voters and not to money bags.”
Nigerians will collect money and vote out APC
On his part, Prince Kassim Afegbua, National Publicity Secretary of the Reformed All Progressives Congress, R-APC noted that while the ruling party is set to play the money game with Nigerians, the rude shock that awaits the APC is that those who would collect their money would vote them out nonetheless.
He also berated the leadership style of the President which he likened to the “17th century era” model.
“Let them spend money; Nigerians will collect it and vote them out. Nigerians are unanimous that President Muhammadu Buhari has not provided efficient and effective leadership and are committed to vote him out. His leadership belongs to the 17th century era,” he said.
Oluyi Akintade Tayo, National President, Oodua Youth Coalition
With the present leadership we have in our country Nigeria, if care is not taken, money might be the deciding factor in 2019, because all our security apparatus who are supposed to maintain law and order have now been seen to be the instrument used to enhance the monetizing of elections in Nigeria as witnessed in Ekiti July 14 governorship election.
Adesina Tosin Nathaniel, Writer
It is evident that what PDP and APC did in Ekiti was predetermined. Predetermined in the sense that both parties ran campaigns devoid of issues like their manifestos. Rather, it was a campaign infested with accusations and name-calling while their rallies was a musical concert. The only thing they could do to get votes was to capitalize on the biting poverty level in the state and both monetized the election and it was evident the highest bidder won. As we approach 2019 with an unmitigated poverty level in the country, money will override quality of contestants and votes will surely go to the highest bidder. The World Poverty Clock did not name us Poverty Capital of the world for fun.