It saddens me so much that I can’t conceal my submission about the disposition of the majority of contemporary electorate. Truly, many people don’t know why we go for election, not only the illiterate but also the well learned ones. They are yet to understand the opportunity election avails us. In actuality, election gives people an ample opportunity to elect or reelect leaders, representatives or government of their choice that can do their expected wishes . During the electioneering campaign, it is the duty of the electorate to observe, assess and reassess every contestant through presentation of his or her manifestos and individual antecedents before giving him or her their mandate through voting. In any ideal situation, that’s how it should happen, though we used to have it so before the advent of the current crops of politicians.
In our own clime it is ironic on both sides of the voters as well as the political office seekers. The electors are no longer willing to wait for the dividends of good governance therefore they care less about the choice of the person they give the mandate to represent or lead them at the helm of affairs. Instead, they opt for vote selling and later settle for hardship nay nagging till the buyer completes his four years tenure in office. To a relative extent, vote buying has come to stay here in Nigeria. It is now the most potent weapon employed by politicians to win elections. Though, it was not absolutely rare in the past but empirically speaking it became an open business during the Ekiti July 2018 election. Similarity was witnessed in Osun State September 2018 election. The electorate marketed their votes like an essential commodity. Desperately, they searched for buyers and sold their votes to highest bidder. So absurd!
On the other side, political office seekers nowadays are not passionate about presenting quality blueprints or convincing manifesto to people during the electioneering campaign. Not only the All Progressive Congress, APC, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP bought votes, there were some average political parties that participated in the crime. Truly, many political parties don’t have manifesto that’s why they give the ticket to the highest spender during the primaries. Despite the fact that the APC is the incumbent, its reliance on vote buying supposed to be minimal but otherwise. The APC candidate couldn’t present his party achievements convincingly while the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola cared not to use his achievements in office to convince the crowd at every rally he attended but rather settled for vulgar music abusive slogans against the opposition. They believed that they have all it required to buy people’s votes but disappointment was the end result. The PDP won by 353 votes before a rerun was ordered. What a big disappointment! The PDP ignored the weaknesses of its candidate, Mr. Ademola Adeleke. It underemphasized his poor education background and the certificate scandal hanging on his neck believed and concluded that the family has the wherewithal to buy all the votes required to declare him the winner but disappointment was also the ultimate outcome for the PDP and its candidate. Ultimately, the PDP lost woefully to the ruling party. Osun people are smarter than the Ekitians as the former sold their votes to more than one buyers, though not on the queue but inside party chieftains’ living rooms, party secretariat and beer cafes. Almost every voter that sold votes to the APC also sold to the PDP. Some voters justified their conscience by voting for the two parties on a ballot paper – void. I think such action increased the number of rejected votes. I could remember a scene when a friend who had collected money from the two parties but was confused about which party to vote for. He was asking another friend to guide him. After much argument, he agreed to vote for the party that paid higher – the PDP.
As result of electing misfits to represent us at the helm of political affairs of the nation, it is sad that several people of questionable character are the ones dictating the fate of the nation and controlling our commonwealth.
* This has succeeded in reversing the economy growth of our dear nation.
* This has fired millions of Nigerians to leave the country through different illegal means.
* This has forced many jobless citizens to venture into variety of ungodly businesses such as kidnapping, arm robbery, human trafficking, cyber crimes, and lot more.
* This has succeeded in bringing disappointment not only to partakers of vote buying and selling but also the innocent citizenry.
If this ugly trend is not curbed on time, it will unleash more disappointment than imagined. It will definitely discourage the poor or average citizens from seeking public office and also cost the rich the more. It will increase the rate at which the incumbent hoard the public funds to seek reelection while the freshers would need to get more involved in money ritual and other illicit ways of accumulating funds.
The most viable solution to this problem lies in the hands of the electorate. They need to sue for contentment, search for the benefits of voting without collecting money and understand the concomitant of good governance. The vote buyers would continue to patronise the electorate but if the latter could summon courage to reject such offers, indeed, the end to such menace imminent and feasible.
Written by :
*Aare Tunde* *Dawood-Akerele*
Accord Osun State Publicity Secretary