Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has accused politicians of inducing voters with money tucked in slices of bread on election days.
This is coming just as the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, implored INEC, police and other security agencies to ensure free, fair and credible 2019 polls in the country.
The duo spoke in Abuja on Monday at a one-day public hearing on ‘Vote Buying and Improving Electoral Processes in Nigeria” organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC.
Yakubu said from the past elections conducted in the country, the electoral body had identified politicians as vote buyers and sellers through various forms including inducement of prospective voters with naira notes sandwiched between two slices of bread.
His words : ” When I talk about sandwich we are not talking of bread but ways politicians induce voters by sandwiching naira notes in two slices of bread. I am talking of sandwich not as food but as tool used by politicians for voting exercise.”
He identified other items used by politicians to further induce voters on election days to include branded food items, kitchen utensils, automobiles, clothing, toiletries, etc.
According to him, INEC on its part, does not sell or buy votes and warned that vote buying should not be allowed to define the nation’s election, as such aberration is not acceptable.
Said he: “Votes buying is not acceptable, it must never be allowed to define our elections. It is illegal and morally wrong. It denies citizens quality representation and give us bad name internationally. It does not give us a good representation.
Noting that such development denies the citizens quality representation and gives the nation a bad name before the international community, the INEC boss said rather than the public hearing, National Assembly ought to have held a confessional hearing.
“We talk too much as a nation. We should stop talking and move on as a nation.
We need a confessional hearing rather than this. We should call the people and ask them how they do it. INEC does not buy or sell votes.
Yakubu called on the legislators to pass the Electoral Offences Tribunal Bill into law as recommended by Uwais, Lemu and Nnamani electoral reform committees, and noted that votes buying was not only a Nigerian issue, but had taken international phenomenon.
“The problem has been with us for a long while and it has become an international phenomenon. It is not just a Nigerian problem. In order to address this, we need to break the chain of voters inducement. We have so many instances where aspirants induced electorate and candidate induced voters.”
Yakubu further noted that challenges behind votes buying were impunity and poverty, lamenting that when voters are beginning to chase vote buyers, it become a serious problem.