By Naomi Sharang
Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, some stakeholders, including registered voters in Abuja have charged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to develop strategy against vote-buying.
They told our correspondent in separate interviews on Monday in Abuja, that such proactive measures had become expedient following complaints the dimension vote-buying in elections had assumed.
According to them, years of commitment by the commission to deliver free and fair elections will amount to naught if vote-buying is now condoned.
Dr Chidi Amadi, the Executive Director, Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group, who expressed concern over the phenomenon, accused political parties of introducing vote-buying into the electoral process.
He said: “we are worried about this trend of vote-buying. This amounts to accomplice actions of politicians and security agencies.
“These days, politicians are so brazen in buying of votes on election days and INEC must wake up to the reality in order to forestall total collapse of the system’’.
An accountant, Mr Emeka Udeogu, said that widespread poverty and ignorance of most voters had encouraged the illicit practice.
He said INEC must be bold enough to cancel results of elections where votes were found to have been bought.
Udeogu, further said that the continuous education and enlightenment of the voting public by the commission could also serve as antidote.
Similarly, Paul Igbinere, a civil servant said INEC and the judiciary were the two potent institutions to re-position the country’s electoral process.
He said that political parties and politicians would be hesitant in buying votes if they were sure to be disqualified or lose the election when caught buying votes.
Igbinere, therefore, called for voter education to tackle the problem, adding that INEC had not been vibrant in taking such campaigns across communities.
Mr Eze JohnPaul, an ophthalmologist, said “it’s just that we don’t know what we want, and again there is hunger in the land.
“I pray we start sensitising ourselves; we don’t have to wait for any government agency to sensitise us on electoral matters; we just have to start talking to ourselves.
“Nigeria belongs to us; we need to talk to people to know what is at stake,” he said.
On his part, Mr Meshach Ikwe, a businessman, said that INEC must display capacity to deal with all misdemeanour that was antithesis to conducting free and fair elections, adding that vote-buying and selling were criminal acts.
“The commission has for long fought to reduce the incidences of ballot box-snatching; vote-buying should not be made to be our electoral history,’’ Ikwe said.