The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will deploy 16,000 staff for the conduct of Osun governorship election on Sept. 22.
The commission chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Friday in Abuja at a sensitization programme organised by YIAGA Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) Series with the theme “Ending the Scourge of Vote Buying and Selling in Nigerian Elections.’’
Promising to ensure that citizens votes count in the Osun gubernatorial election, he said INEC is only interested in the processes of the election and not in the outcome of the elections because the outcome is in the hands of citizens.
Yakubu stressed that the commission had strengthen the electoral process, adding that the era of ballot snatching and other irregularities often experienced during any election was gradually ending.
“The deployment of ICT has enhanced openness and transparency, we have come this far, votes count and will continue to count and votes will continue to be the determinant of who wins an election.
“So, now we are confronted with another challenge as a commission and that is the menace of vote buying, we have said over and over that it is a challenge and a shame on our electoral system.
“INEC will rise to this challenge just as we have risen to previous challenges in our electoral processes and am very sure that we will overcome.
“The problem is hydra- headed, therefore will require a number of approaches involving all stakeholders, INEC, security agents, political parties, civil society, media and the citizens to come together to address this challenge.’’
The INEC boss said that the commission would move to curb vote buying by first addressing the issue of violations at polling units.
He said that the commission would use the Osun governorship election coming up in the next eight days to actually make a statement against vote buying.
A board member of YIAGA, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu said that vote buying increased because of the credibility of the electoral process by INEC.
According to Nwagwu, politicians now know that they can no longer snatch ballot boxes, so the only option is to induce voters.
He said that there was need for traditional and religious leaders to begin to talk to their people to shun vote buying because they were mortgaging their future.
Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA Africa said that the group carried out a survey on vote buying because it was concerned with the trend in elections.
He appealed to INEC not to allow voters into the voting cubicle with their phones as a move to forestall snapping their ballot papers to show before collecting money.
He urged citizens to vote for their conscience and vote people with credibility and good character rather than for money, gifts and food items.