By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says it will arrest and prosecute anyone that engages in vote-buying in the Sept. 22 governorship election in Osun.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this known at the commission’s quarterly consultative meeting with political parties on Friday in Abuja.
He said that the commission would no longer take lightly, issue of vote-buying which had become a recurring decimal in the country’s elections.
“We are witnessing an ugly trend of vote-buying in recent elections in the country; this is giving our democracy a bad name.
“There is difference between democracy – government of the people, made by the people and for the people and plutocracy, which is government by the rich.
“We are going to make Osun governorship election a big statement by arresting and prosecuting vote buyers. We can’t carry this ugly trend to 2019 elections,” Yakubu said.
He urged political parties to adhere strictly to the commission’s timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections.
The chairman advised political parties to ensure that their primaries were credible, saying credible and peaceful elections started with political parties, which were the cornerstone of our democracy.
“Nobody can aspire for elective position without a political party. We conduct the election, while parties produce the candidates, and that is why conducting credible party primaries is essential.”
He said that INEC had so far received invitation letters from 60 political parties out of the 91 registered political parties, to monitor their primaries.
Yakubu added that the commission would only recognise notice of primaries from parties’ national executive committees.
“Notification should not come from branches; avoid incessant changes to party primaries and strife to eliminate rancour primaries.
“We incur cost in the process of monitoring party primaries; we don’t have all the resources in the world to monitor party primaries.
“Primaries should be resolved without litigations; we are still battling with litigations from party primaries conducted in 2014; we have been dragged to conduct 680 times over party primaries.
“Political parties are key to our democracy, some parties change names of candidates who genuinely emerged from party primaries, while some submit names of candidates without conducting primaries.
“Even though we have no power under the law to reject the names of candidates submitted by political parties, this time, we will name and shame political parties that do these.
“So, we should do the right thing for our democracy.”