Vote-Buying and the Larger Picture; By Safiya I. Dantiye

By Adadainfo

ACCORDING to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), millions of northerners who have obtained their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) are selling them to politicians for less than N2,000.

The director, Publicity and Advocacy of NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said in a statement on Wednesday that the electorate and especially women, were being deceived to sell their PVCs for less than N2,000, an action he described as a ploy to disenfranchise some Nigerians in the North.

“Thousands, or possibly even millions of northern voters, particularly women, are being made to surrender their PVCs for a pittance, in most instances not more than N2,000.

“In some instances, they are told their cards will be returned to them after they are processed for additional payments as poverty relief. No cards are returned.

“Our investigations suggest that this is an aggressive and blatant voter suppression attempt to reduce the voting power of the North,” he said.

Some people have been caught with a lot of PVCs which people hope would be useless even if they were not caught as many are definitely not caught, because INEC would make it impossible for anybody to vote with another person’s PVC.

But if the PVCs are not bought for this reason, but just to deprive the people from voting, it is a new tactic by politicians to interfere with the election through another means.

While the NEF says the people sell their PVCs with the promise of getting money for poverty relief after being processed, the truth of the matter is that many would willingly sell their voters card for two thousand naira without any promise of more money later.

Therefore it is a disappointment and an indictment of our political leaders that after 23 three years of uninterrupted democracy, some people are so disenchanted, so disconnected that the only way they perceive to gain anything from the democracy is to sell their voters cards to as low as two thousand naira or less.

Every election circle, people are being enlightened to vote because ‘your vote is your power’, that with it you can choose your leaders by electing them or changing them for that matter.

But apparently some are skeptical; they believe that their votes don’t really count. And even where they do, what do they get out of the government? The tedious campaign of providing water, electricity and good roads is the same for donkey’s years.

So, how come these were not provided enough since to move the campaign to other things? Why are we in a stagnant state of perpetually in need of pipe-borne water and electricity?

In places where people live in poverty, they go out at 4.00a.m. to go to a philanthropist’s house and join a queue to collect one hundred naira or two hundred naira. Some would also go and join a queue to collect free bread from another philanthropist.

While many may be old women, there are young married women that wake up their small children and go with them so that they too would be given a loaf of bread each. Their husbands are at home and probably sleeping without shame that their wives and small children are out in the cold or rain to get what to eat as they are relaxing at home.

In any event, if the women have many loaves of bread, they sell them and buy maize flour to cook a meal. So, if such a woman in a dire condition is offered two thousand naira for her PVC, she would gladly sell it to buy food.

Even those that buy the PVCs just to disenfranchise them use their poverty condition as a weapon against them. It shows the disdain in which some politicians hold people.

But then ‘vote-buying’ has always been there, however not in actual buying the voters cards, but where voters are given money on election day and asked to vote for a particular candidate.

In this regard, Nigeria has a long way to go to stop vote buying in whatever guise. The politicians and leaders however have to live up to their promises to lift people out of poverty. Whatever that means.

Adadainfo is an online newspaper reporting Nigerian news. Email: Phone: 08071790941

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