By Segun Adejumo
Ekiti governorship election threw up another major electoral challenge in the country which is the issue of vote buying. It was the election that coined the now popular term – “d’ibo ko seebe” meaning, “vote and cook soup”.
Vote buying is not new to Nigerian electoral system and climate. It is as old as our nation’s democracy. It has however been rebranded and better packaged. It takes two to tango says the popular maxim, the simple theory of demand and supply reveals that there must be a product to be sold, a willing seller who put his product for sale for specific price and a willing buyer who is ready to pay the specified or agreed price.
In this sense, we have the ballot papers as the delectable product. We have willing seller’s which are the electorate’s, the almighty voter’s – the Permanent Voter Card’s owner’s and the prospective and willing buyers, the political parties especially, the major ones. We have the product, the seller and the buyer. Case closed.
That Nigeria is the global capital of poverty having overtaken the good but poor people of India is no longer news. That most Nigerians lives in abject poverty and well below the poverty line are not in doubt; that most Nigerians lives below one dollar (360 naira) per day are incontestable. This is partly one of the reasons the almighty PVC owner’s sells their votes.
On the other hand, we have many irresponsible politician’s whose stock in trade is to rig election’s and attain the exalted positions of power via thuggery, ballot stuffing, ballot snatching, ballot paper’s forgery, result falsifications and all electoral malpractices one can think of.
But in the era of card reader’s introduced by Professor Attahiru Jega’s led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), using thuggery to win elections is no longer fashionable and the alternative is the new trend – vote buying.
The third leg of the tripod are the leaders especially, the elected one’s who the greatest beneficiaries of electoral frauds are. Nigeria as a nation appears to have been cursed with leadership problem from outset.
Nigerians have seen how leader’s of developed nation’s turned the fortune of their countries around even, our former colleagues in the developing countries like Malaysia, India, Indonesia etc. have changed the stories of their people for good. The nation have over the year’s had thoughtless, greedy, selfish, wicked and callous leaders whose preoccupations were to steal, loot and destroy. They did not only loot for themselves but for their unborn children thereby looting the future of incoming generations.
They are not only looting but destroying the remaining spoils so that no crumbles would be left for the poor Nigerians in order to make us perpetually poor and be eternally subservient to them.
Recently, Ekiti state governorship election held and winner emerged in a highly monetised election where state government allegedly transferred three thousand naira to account’s of prospective voter’s in the state in addition to four thousands naira shared on election day. The All Progressives Congress (APC) was also alleged to have shared five thousand naira to voters in what was tagged “see and buy”. Other small parties were alleged to have shared between one thousand and three thousand naira each. Welcome to Nigeria where we are extremely rich yet, extremely poor!
In Ekiti, workers were owed salaries for several months and pensioners were not spared. While they were hoping, praying and expecting alert on the eve of the election, they got alert of three thousand naira. Perhaps, it was meant to convey them to their polling units where four thousand naira was waiting for them. The APC cashed on that and increased their “see and buy” to five thousand naira per voter.
In Osun, after settlements of salary and some pension arrears just before the 2014 governorship election by Aregbesola’s government, the term “Afusa” – a popular term in Osun today, meaning “half salary” became rampant. Were people deceived to vote APC in 2014? Only Aregbesola can answer that. As the judgement day in Osun approaches, the government hurriedly announced return to full salary payment for all civil servants but the truth is, they were owed and no plan for Aregbesola to pay them before his government wind up.
In Ekiti, Fayose was more popular than Eleka, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the election. Many people do not even know Eleka but Fayose. In fact, Eleka barely speaks during the campaigns, whereas, Eleka is Fayose’s deputy. In Osun, the same script is playing out. Aregbesola appears to be Oyetola, the APC’s candidate, in all outings so far. Oyetola is Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff since 2010.
Fayose in Ekiti insisted that Eleka must succeed him and as a result, organised a kangaroo primary election where some party governorship aspirant’s like Adeyeye were technically knocked out of the race. Aregbesola did same in Osun through what Osun people called “direct fraud”. Brilliant aspirant’s like Kunle Adegoke (K-RAD) and party loyalist like Moshood Adeoti among others, were “directly” knocked out through direct primaries. The eventual result is the depleting of the ranks of the ruling party in the state where the Secretary to the State Government, cabinet member’s, House of Assembly member’s, party leader’s etc. had to leave the party as they considered it a sinking ship.
Just like Ekiti where we had Fayose and Eleka, in Osun, we have Aregbesola and Oyetola. Both of them are like conjoined twins. In fact, they are Siamese twin. It has been alleged that the insistence of these incumbents was to cover the monumental frauds committed by the outgoing Governor’s in Ekiti and Osun. Eleka and Oyetola are de-facto governors. They understood the system well, including the looting. They truly needed one of their loyalist’s to occupy the post.
The campaigns have thrown up hate speeches and mere rhetoric. It has been organised like a carnival. None of the major candidate’s has been able to tell Osun people how their lives would be better under him as their Governor. The blackmail, mischievousness and name-calling are second to none. The distinction between the major candidates’ is like six and half a dozen.
The candidate’s need to redirects their campaign. They need to focus on what the plans are to take Osun to enviable heights among comity of states in Nigeria. They need to tell Osun people what the plans are and strategies to achieve them in the area of economy, education, infrastructure, health, transport, social services and so on.
In Ekiti, significant number of registered voters failed to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards and the story has not changed either in Osun. The INEC, Osun state government, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), political parties and other stakeholder’s must improve the level of awareness and political education. They must inform passive electorate’s on the need to obtain their PVC’s and ensure that they vote and protect their votes. INEC must also ensure that the process for collection of PVC’s is seamless and reduce the stress involved.
Electorates on the other hand must determine the future of their state. We must look beyond the immediate poverty that the current system has brought upon us. We must ask questions. We must seek viable and credible alternatives. We must not sell our votes. We must not vote candidate’s whose parties have failed us in the past and still failing us. A new Osun is possible if we vote right.
Kindly note that the opinions expressed in the article are that of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of City Mirror News.
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