By Adekunle Adekoya

IT is no longer news that the governorship election in Ekiti has come and gone, or that Biodun Oyebanji of the All Progressives Congress, APC, won. Further, we saw how the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was trounced to a third position, running behind the SDP, which fielded Segun Oni, a former governor who ruled the state on the PDP platform.

On that election, we must congratulate ourselves; a lot of progress has been made, if previous experience was anything to go by. The balloting exercise on election day was largely peaceful, while the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, seemed to have tamed its logistics devils.

Voting was organised and as many observers noted, peaceful and orderly. Incidences of ballot-snatching, thuggery and other devils that mar voting here somehow receded as they were not in evidence. In addition, electoral officials arrived early at the polling units, alongside security operatives, while equipment functioned as expected.

The 3,346 BVAS machines deployed for the election worked so well that the usual shenanigans were pre-empted. In addition, activities of NGOs like CDD West Africa, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, YIAGA Africa and others helped ensure that  results uploaded by INEC were being relayed to diverse audiences by the various media organisations covering the election.

All these helped, and empowered by the recently amended Electoral Act, the Ekiti election was an improvement on the Edo and Ondo off-cycle elections held earlier. That is why I say we must congratulate ourselves. If we can replicate this, alongside other improvements in next year’s general elections, then we would be taking a gigantic leap in our democratic experience, for the better.

But a problem arose from the Ekiti election. The problem had actually been there; but it came out in bold relief during the voting exercise. It is the problem of vote-buying, and vote-selling. Yes, vote-selling because if there were no sellers, buyers would retreat. Readers saw and still would be able to see videos of people giving and taking money after voting for preferred candidates of the giver(s). The slogan, “D’ibo, koo se’be” in Yoruba rent the air at polling units as the election progressed. It means “Vote, make a pot of stew/soup”.

Massive vote-buying by party agents of the three top candidates was evident, as party agents offered sums of money ranging from N3,000 to N10,000. A video that went viral was that of a female voter lamenting that she was duped as the agent that promised her money vanished after she had voted for his candidate. Very bad. Given the prevailing economic situation in the country, the politicians have simply weaponised poverty and used it against the people that they have woefully disappointed. It is a big shame, a let-down of gargantuan proportions.

I hope it is not too early to hope that thuggery will not mar the general elections of next year, but if it will not, then we can expect vote-buying on a scale never seen before in this country. This is because in seven months’ time, the economy of the country would have gone further south, meaning that poverty would have deepened so much that people would, for N10, do what they wouldn’t have dreamt of doing for N50. Get my drift?

Besides, the politicians in the top parties would be working feverishly to amass their war chests for the general election. While it would be “easy” to manage one state, as in the case of Ekiti, and Osun next month, managing 36 states during the presidential elections would require humongous cash outlays. How do these magicians generate the money amid so much poverty?

As for the electorate, it is pitiable and downright pathetic that a voter would collect a paltry N3,000 or even N10,000 to vote for somebody. However illiterate, however poor, that person has simply sold four years, or one term of good service expected from the elected official.

When you collect that money, you have no right to expect uninterrupted power supply, good roads, potable water, good rail services and other dividends of good governance. In addition, ASUU, SSANU, NASU, and other unions will forever be on strike and their children would be roaming the streets, out of school.

In addition, such a voter should continue to fall victim of marauding bandits, kidnappers, rampaging herdsmen and other societal ills because he/she has taken his/her share of the money meant for reliable, efficient security services. That Ekiti voter who lamented being “gypped” has seen the face of her own tomorrow; it is the face of a promise that will never be fulfilled, the face of a hope that will forever be dashed.

It is also an open sore that will never heal. Insouciant politicians buying votes and senseless voters selling them, as happened in Ekiti are painting the picture of what 2023 will look like. It will be a bad picture.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.