By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief WoleÂ Olanipekun (SAN), has disclosed that the rampant cash for votes in the countryâ€™s electoral process has accounted for the slow pace of development in Nigeria.
Olanipekun called for concerted efforts to stop distribution of money on the day of elections, saying failure to do so might affect the country negatively.
The former NBA boss said it is wrong for some Nigerians to ask President Muhammadu Buhari not to run in the February, 2019 presidential election.
He contended that running for the presidency is the constitutional right of Buhari and other Nigerians interested in that position and any other elective office.
Olanipekun spoke with reporters on yesterday shortly after the foundation laying ceremony of the new St. Peterâ€™s Anglican Church building, Ikere-Ekiti of which he is the sole sponsor.
He said: â€œThen there cannot be poverty alleviation because when you get there, you are not going to respect voters, you are not going to respect their children.
â€œYou will want to recoup what you have spent because you see it as an investment, your family sees it as an investment and they want you to recoup it.
â€œBy the time you buy them, you will forget them and those who want to surrender their conscience for pittance, let them remember that they are doing it at the risk of their children, their own selves and their future generation.â€
Olanipekun noted that Buhari should not be accorded a superior right over other candidates adding that all of them must be given equal rights to canvass for votes in line with the Constitution and Electoral Act.
The legal luminary also expressed worry over politiciansâ€™ penchant for vote buying at elections saying the practice has aggravated poverty in the land. He said the politicians should use such money to create jobs for the unemployed Nigerians.
Olanipekun advised Nigerians to ask questions from those seeking public office while candidates running should unfold their manifestos and programmes to voters.
He said: â€œIn this season of election and electioneering, my plea is that anybody who wants to contest, let him or her contest and let us listen to them.
â€œEverybody has a right to contest as long as he or she meets the requirements of the law. I have the right to vote for the candidate of my choice. Let us listen to those who want to occupy elective offices: state Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, governorship and presidency. I am not one of those who will say no; this man should not contest, why? â€œIf you want me to mention name, I am one of those who will say President Buhari should not contest, no.
â€œFrankly speaking, he has a right but in contesting, others should be able to say â€˜I am better than himâ€™ and he should prove that he is better than them and Nigerians should make their choice.
â€œBut we should not disallow others from expressing their own views. Contesting elections is oneâ€™s constitutional right. Did Obasanjo not contest (for second term)? Did Jonathan not contest (for second term)?
â€œWhy should his (Buhariâ€™s) be different? Others also have a right to contest and if he (Buhari) is contesting on the platform of his political party, he does not have superior right over other candidates.