The game has changed. The days are gone where rampant and widespread ballot-box snatching, political thuggery, and falsification of figures at collation centres define election rigging in Nigeria.Today, vote-buying is the name of the game and just as an election observer and monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has described, vote-buying is the new way of election rigging by politicians in the country. Projector Director of Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said in Osogbo yesterday at a Media Round Table Discussion tagged ‘Watching The Vote’ ahead of the September 22 governorship election in Osun State.Mbamalu said vote-buying was becoming a threat to Nigerian electoral process, adding that all hands must be on deck to put an end to the menace. “Nowadays, the more money you give, the more votes you get and this is becoming a problem and a challenge to our electoral process.”
Mbamalu said since the introduction of card reader machines, election rigging had reduced to the barest minimum but that the new way found by politicians to compromise electoral process was vote-buying. On Osun election, she said the NGO would deploy 500 election observers in 250 polling units across the state.Money has become a dominant, determinant factor in Nigeria’s politics. The ordinary citizens are victimized by vote-buying because their limited means make them susceptible to material inducements, including offers of basic commodities or modest amounts of money.
The July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State brought to the fore the daunting challenge of vote-buying in the country’s electoral process, as it left in its wake, an indelible scar on the election’s outcome. The perpetrators seem to have become more daring with each successive election. The elections in Ondo and Ekiti states, in particular, were hugely marred by vote-buying, not necessarily because of the value of the votes bought but owing to the brazen display of indiscretions by vote buyers. The perpetrators went about the electoral offence as if they had immunity or had been assured of impunity.