SIR: Few days from today, Nigerians will go to the poll to elect their representatives. February 16 and March 2, have been fixed by the Independent National Electorate Commission (INEC) for the presidential/National Assembly and gubernatorial/state assembly elections respectively. For the legislative arm that does not have term limits, some candidates will go for their fifth term having served since the inception of the third republic. Other will contest for their second or third term. Many new candidates are also on the ballot. The 20 years of uninterrupted democracy in the country is therefore cheering news. Although, we can’t rule out the imperfections that continue to mar the system such as electoral malpractice and money bag politics, at least democracy in Nigeria has afforded us the unique opportunity to exercise our civil rights.
Iam compelled to write this inview of the importance attached to the forthcoming polls and the allegations of votes buying being peddled across the country. One serious electoral offence is votes-buying. The use of money or any other forms of inducement to get voters to vote against their conscience or wishes is an offence punishable according to electoral laws. However, due to poverty and illiteracy, the electorate have resorted to selling their votes instead of using it wisely to effect changes. Sometimes, corrupt politicians who use agents to buy the votes woo voters with peanut and ridiculous amounts of money. The negative repercussions of votes buying are the corruption of the electoral process, election of incompetent leaders, and above all, the dashing of the hopes of the electorate.
How do you expect a representative who used his resources to buy your votes to work for you? What he will do first if he wins the election is to recoup his money and make profit before any other thing. These corrupt politicians have made election as a venture where profits come before service. What electorates should do at this election period is to assess their candidates based on their performance if they are looking for another mandate. If they are fresh or new candidates, let us peep into the record of their services. Are they people of impeccable character? Have they corruptly enriched themselves?
Unless we shine our eyes and vote for only good and credible candidates in the forthcoming elections, it will take us another good four years before we go to the polls again.Let us make hay when the sun is shining as the saying goes.
- Ibrahim Mustapha,