March 20, 2023

How vote buying, violence marred polls in South-East, North-West – CDD report 

Governorship nElection

By Miftaudeen Raji

The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) has released a report on how vote buying and violence marred the the governorship and state house of assembly elections. 

The CDD, in a press statement released on Monday, said vote buying was more in the South-East than in any other geopolitical zones, while violence marred polls in North-West region during March 18th elections.

Recall that the governorship and state house of assembly elections were held on March 18 in 28 states across the country.

According to CDD, voters were more focused on what they would get than the ideology of the candidates.

It said the vote-trading was made possible due to the prevailing economic hardship amid the current cash crunch.

“In total, 25.3 percent of observers noted vote buying at their polling units across the country with the highest figures reported in the northwest (35.4 percent) and southeast (41.4 percent),” the statement reads.

“In Anambra state, party agents were observed using materials, phones, and other souvenirs to entice voters. In the south-south, multiple party agents reported a desire for voters to show proof of their vote before being paid, with party agents reportedly compiling a list of their voters in Esan Central LGA, Edo state.

“The prevailing economic hardship in the country – 133 million Nigerians were estimated to be multidimensionally poor in 2022 according to the National Bureau of Statistics – and the continued shortages of fuel and particularly Naira were undoubtedly a factor in this.

“Votes were being traded for between N1,000-2,000 in parts of Edo and Benue states for example, with goods of similar value used in many cases in lieu of cash given the continued currency shortages. Across the region, manifestations of vote buying included the use of fabric, toiletries, ‘I-owe-you-vouchers’ and food items.”

The CDD said electoral violence was more in the northwest with voters being threatened with death in some polling units.

“Voter suppression, voter intimidation, and the destruction or theft of election materials predominantly by political party agents and politically aligned thugs were recorded across all six geopolitical zones,” it said.

“A total of 10.8 percent of observed polling units recorded violence and/or fighting; this was most pronounced in the northwest (19.9 percent) and south-south (11.6 percent) geopolitical zones with Bayelsa and Zamfara, the two states with the most incidents recorded by our observers.

“These violent incidents were often focused in political strongholds of opposition or perceived opponents which suggests that the use of BVAS – which can limit overvoting in principle has resulted in a more concerted effort to stymie votes than to try and stuff ballot boxes in order to rig the outcome of an election.

“Conventional forms of voter suppression were recorded by observers across the northwest zone, and most apparent in Zamfara where the bandits and vigilante groups, particularly Yan Sakai, were reported to have threatened voters with death if they voted for the incumbent.

“Similar incidents of intimidation were reported in all geo-political zones, and were most pronounced in the southeast zone (9.8 percent as compared with a nationwide average of 4.7 percent), with party agents involved. In Lagos, for example, voters were told to vote for the incumbent or they would be flogged in Lagbasa and Ado primary schools in Ajah LGA.”

The CDD said the outcome of the presidential and gubernatorial elections would either worsen or strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.

It added that some of these determining factors include, the pronounced ethnic divisions, the electorate’s increased awareness and involvement in the process, the political influence of alternative parties, and the incorporation of technology amongst others.