…Deploys 16,000 staff for Osun guber poll
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the conduct of the Osun State governorship election will be a testing ground against vote buying.
The INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, stated this on Friday during a programme, #Watchingthevote an Election Dialogue Series of YIAGA Africa headed by Mr Samson Itodo.
According to Yakubu, the programme with a theme titled: “Ending the scourge of vote buying and selling in Nigerian elections”, is appropriate, saying that the commission and other relevant stakeholders will stop the scourge of vote buying.
He said, “Just like the way we stop other vices, INEC will used the Osun election to make a statement on vote buying”.
The INEC boss also stated that the commission will make it difficult for voter to expose their vote to agents of buying.
He also disclosed that “Voting cubicles will be well manned,” saying that the agents of votes buying are agents of political parties.
He added that the commission will change seating arrangements during the polls.
Yakubu, who said INEC will banned the use of some devices like mobile smart phones at polling units, added that they will increase voter education and sensitization against vote buying.
He said, “Others like the security agencies must enforce the laws,” and lamented that INEC is required to prosecute, but lacks the power make arrest and investigate.
He said over 40 electoral offenders have been prosecuted, ” adding that they are pursuing 100 cases in court.
On the Osun State Governorship election, Yakubu said 16,000 staff will be deployed for the exercise, adding that INEC will work with the security agencies to ensure that offenders are prosecuted.
Promising to ensure that citizens votes count in the Osun gubernatorial election, Yakubu 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.
The INEC boss 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.
He said, “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 I 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.
The newly-elected Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) Chairman, Chief Peter Ameh, said politicians resort to vote buying because they now have intellectually driving INEC.
Amen said, “The elections are now credible. They resort to vote buying because they know the vote will count.”
The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, said cash for vote, which he described as see and buy is threatening the credibility of the elections conduct.
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.