The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, has condemned the distribution of cash to the public very close to general elections by public officials under the TraderMoni scheme.
Hon Dogara, at a public hearing organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC and Political Parties Matters on Vote-buying and Improving the Electoral Processes in Nigeria, said no matter how noble the intent may be, such endeavors amount to vote buying and inducement, which is a clear case of corruption.
He stated that the act of inducing the public with cash in exchange for their votes is a fraud that is covered within section 124 (1)(a);(b);(c); Section(124)(2)(4)(5) and Section 130 of the Electoral Act.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has been visiting markets across the country, distributing money to traders under the tradermonischeme, an economic intervention measure to support small scale businesses across the nation.
Hon Dogara explained, “Vote buying and other sundry criminal manipulations of the electoral process in Nigeria have left our citizens in a state of unmitigated disaster. As a result, we have been married off to a mob. A mob that rules us by the example of their power nor by the dictates of law. A mob that rules by fear as an inalienable tool rather than by courage. A mob that accepts the status quo rather than challenge it. Mobs don’t grow others, they only destroy others in order to grow themselves. We follow the mob because we must, not because we are receiving any sense of significance for our own lives from them. Our democracy has stagnated and will sadly remain so until we eliminate all sham elections which have the effect of throwing up the worst of us to lead the best of us.”
Reiterating the need for free, fair, credible and transparent elections, the lawmaker stressed that it is the very basis for translating the consent of the governed into governmental authority, especially as elections are now so attractive that even pretentious democracies lay claim to holding elections just in order to confer some aura of legitimacy on their rule.
Hon Dogara further noted a more worrisome dimension to vote buying which he stated is the alleged use of the officials of the electoral umpire, INEC, and officers of security agencies to induce, or intimidate and coerce voters to vote for particular candidates.
He lamented that “such absurdities have been widely reported in the media and confirmed by some local and international observers in respect of the recently concluded governorship elections in Osun State.”
“Let me seize this opportunity to call on all people of goodwill in our country to rise in condemnation and denunciation of vote-buying and all forms of electoral malpractices. Indeed, electoral fraud is one of the worst forms of corruption, and should be treated as such. This is the only way we can guarantee the stability and growth of our democracy,” he charged.