Nigerians have been urged to resist selling votes to politicians, warning that electing the wrong candidates is dangerous to the nation’s democracy and will further shrink the civic space.
Vote buying has become a disturbing phenomenon in recent off-cycle elections in Nigeria and is now a major concern ahead of the general 2023 polls.
The Executive Director of Daily Trust Foundation, Dr Theophilus Abbah issued the caution during Public Conscience, an anti-corruption radio programme produced by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG) in Abuja on Wednesday, asking electorates to reject the “Greek gift” by politicians.
While stressing the need for citizens to participate in the 2023 general elections, Abbah urged Nigerians to vote their conscience, noting that the outcome of the coming elections will shape what happens in the next four to eight years.
He urged electorates to jettison the idea of collecting money offered by politicians during the election and voting their conscience, warning that any politician paying to vote is making an “investment” and will seek to recoup the money spent.
“Nigerians are well aware that vote buying is not good for our democracy, anybody who gives money to get elected is actually making an investment, and if he wins the election, he will want to recoup that money as his salary is not enough to recoup that money.
“The president does not earn up to N2 million per month according to the official salary of the president. Imagine if he distributed 100 billion to get elected. You can imagine how long it will take him to recoup that money from his salary. It doesn’t happen. That means anybody who gives so much money definitely is going to use the resources we have, that should have been used to develop society and provide social services to replenish his coffers.
“And anyone who pays to get the vote, his conscience will not be pricked if he is stealing the money. He will say, after all, I paid to be elected.
“You cannot in all conscience vote for another person. Your conscience will tell you, and you have eaten from this man, you cannot go against him; you must fulfil your promise. So, it is not the right thing to do, even if your preferred candidate is not going to win an election, you should shun that momentary pleasure, advantage derived from the little money”, he stressed.
Abbah decried the shrinking civic space in Nigeria owing to a spate of attacks on journalists and human rights activists by non-state actors and thugs working for politicians, cautioning that the development is impeding democracy.
“When you look at the issue of civic space, in a situation whereby journalists, right civil activists, and anti-corruption activists are not finding it convenient to operate effectively in the country, it is not good for democracy.
“if you vote for the wrong candidate in a sense that candidate who doesn’t respect the role of the media, who doesn’t respect the fact that the media are partners in the country’s democratic experiment, if you vote in leaders like that, it will affect the civic space”, he stated.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The programme has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.