Vote buying continues to be a prevalent source in Nigeria due to a combination of socio-economic conditions that enables it to thrive.
Poverty and illiteracy, for example, make people more susceptible to material inducement. Until there is a significant shift in how politics is perceived and conducted in Nigeria and improved socio-economic conditions, vote buying will continue to be a challenge in the country.
To effectively address the issue of vote buying in Nigeria, a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach is required to target the root causes of the problem.
News.ng lists five recommendations to minimize vote buying in Nigeria.
1) Development of voter education program: A viable voter education program will sensitize voters on the negative impacts of vote buying, the consequences of accepting bribes, and how to identify and report cases of vote buying. The program should be implemented collaboratively involving all stakeholders, including civil society, the media and the electoral commission.
2) Enforce penalties: A special task force should be created to investigate electoral fraud. Penalties for vote buying should target the drivers of the behaviour, such as political parties, candidates, and other actors who use money to manipulate the electoral process. These penalties should be severe to ensure that the prohibition of vote buying is taken seriously and to deter future offenders.
3) Value placed on political power is high: The privileges and perquisites associated with public office should be significantly reduced. This would discourage individuals from seeking political positions solely for personal gain and reduce the premium placed on state power. This would also reduce the desperation of the political elite to maintain or gain power.
4) Financial accountability by political parties: Political parties must control the abusive influence of money in their candidate selection processes. This will help shift the perception of politics from a business venture to a public service, making it less likely for politicians to engage in unethical practices. The parties should also enforce issue-based campaigns, especially during primary elections.
5) INEC must protect voter’s rights: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must ensure that how polls are set up supports secret ballot voting, which will help to protect the voter’s rights to vote in secret. This will prevent individuals from being coerced or intimidated into voting a certain way by politicians and their agents.