Want End to Inducement, Thuggery, Impunity The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Femi Falana have frowned at the widespread buying of votes in the just concluded Ekiti governorship polls. A statement signed by Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, TMG’s chairperson said that its observers reported “a systemic case of vote buying and financial
Want End to Inducement, Thuggery, Impunity
The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Femi Falana have frowned at the widespread buying of votes in the just concluded Ekiti governorship polls. A statement signed by Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, TMG’s chairperson said that its observers reported “a systemic case of vote buying and financial inducement of voters with all the parties involved and a sense of communal buy-in in the act”.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), noted that “No doubt, the financial inducement has substantially eroded the credibility of the election. The governor-elect, Dr Kayode Fayemi, owes the Ekiti people a duty to end inducement, thuggery and impunity with which Ekiti State has been associated in recent times”.
“In particular, the electorate should be enlightened to distance themselves from electoral fraud and allied offences. The open purchase of votes displayed during the governorship elections in Edo, Anambra and Ondo states was repeated in Ekiti State on Saturday”, he said adding that “I will like to call on INEC to put an end to the inducement of voters during the forthcoming Osun State governorship election.”
TMG said that “While it wasn’t observed that INEC officials were in anyway complicit in the act, the arrangement of polling stations; the voting booth and the ballot box leaves much to be desired towards stemming this ugly practice. The practice is taking a consistent approach with impunity on the part of the political actors with far reaching implication for the credibility of elections, mandates and democracy in general”.
“While the TMG commends the people of Ekiti State for coming out en-mass to vote, it is struggling to come to terms if this large voter mobilisation is not hinged on the incentives of the financial inducement from political parties for their votes”. “
Calling on Nigerians to shun partaking in such act as it has far reaching implication for the nature of relationship that evolves between elected leaders and the people in the quest for accountability and transparency in governance, TMG said “This question has become necessary in the face of the massive acceptance of the financial inducement by the voters”.
“The TMG is concerned about the growing trend of vote buying by political parties and contestants in elections. This practice is becoming the norm with political parties trying to outwit each other in the sums paid to voters. The practice is a bad omen for the country’s democracy, it has the potential of undermining all the progress we have made in our electoral politics and further exclude groups such as women, young people and persons with disability who have been largely excluded in politics due to money driven politics”, it said in its report.
.The TMG implored INEC to seriously consider the setting up of polling units in future in ways in which a third second verification of voter’s choices are almost impossible to stem the tide of vote buying.and admonished all actors to step up conversations and actions on this worrying trend and the best way to deal with it.
TMG also said that “Accreditation and voting started quite early, a marked departure from late start of polling in previous elections. There were complaints recorded with the Smart Card Readers as authentication of finger prints which resulted in slow voting. Nevertheless the polling officials conducted themselves professionally and were able to handle complaints and issues arising from the voting process effectively, this could be an indication of proper training of the polling officials and a good understanding of the processes.
“Persons with disability, PWDs, the aged and pregnant women were given priority in the voting process even though the location of the polling stations still posed challenges of access for these groups especially for PWDs,” it said.
The TMG observed that the election was largely peaceful except for a few isolated cases of violent conducts or actions that could have undermined the voting process which was effectively dealt with by the Police and other security personnel who also conducted themselves in a civil manner.
TMG also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “for its improvement in the management of the elections in the state, the electoral management body had undertaken extensive consultation in the build up to the election, managed logistics in an effective and timely manner as well as improvement in the conduct of its election officials”.
“This the group suggest must be the minimum benchmark as the EMB prepares for the 2019 elections. INEC should also look at the working of the card reader with a view to dealing with issues identified during the Ekiti State election which includes finger print authentication and the speed of the machines.”
The group is however concerned with the “massive deployment of security agencies and personnel during the elections” and canvassed that “the country should be working towards a less policed electoral process”.
“The TMG is of the opinion that mobilising the whole gamut of the country’s security infrastructure is not necessary as this could intimidate voters and further drive voter apathy which is a key concern for the electoral process, looking at the discrepancy between the number of registered voters and those who actually vote”, it said.
Meanwhile, the governor-elect of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said his victory in Saturday’s governorship election is very significant for the future of democracy in Nigeria.
“This was just not an Ekiti election, I want people to understand that this election has a lot of significance to the future of democracy in Nigeria”.
” The fact that we have witnessed a free, fair and transparent election process has huge importance for similar exercises like Osun State next door to us and eventually the national elections in February 2019,” he said.
Fayemi spoke on Sunday while addressing the newsmen in Isan-Ekiti shortly after he was declared the winner of the governorship election.
He said: “The victory of this election, I believe, is for reclaiming the land and restoring the values of our people. Our values in Ekiti are respect for our leaders, commitment to our people, non-brigandage, nor criminality and so on”.”This victory is a victory for all, it is not a victory for only Gov. Kayode Fayemi, it is a victory for all the Ekiti people.’’
The governor-elect thanked all the APC leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, National Leader of the APC, Sen. Bola Tinubu, former governor of Ogun, Chief Segun Osoba, former interim Chairman of the Party, Chief Bisi Akande, as well as party leaders in the state. He also thanked his family members, especially his wife, Bisi, for their support during the election campaign.