by Atiku Nafisa
The battle line was drawn in Ekiti state last weekend. There had been massive voter sensitization, political rallies all to make sure that the indigenes came out to vote in an election that would determine the quality of their lives for the next four years. Observer groups from YIAGA, the British High Commission etc all came out to represent the civil society groups and guard the democracy we all labored to protect.
Were there massive campaigns of voter sensitization? Yes. Were processes put in place by INEC enough to ensure a fluid system of voting? Yes. Was the election free and fair? Not at all.
You see, with our rallying cries of pushing people to get their PVC’s, we failed to address our mind to the fact that it might soon be used as a tool of rigging by the party which has the deepest pocket.
Both parties APC and PDP were actively involved in buying votes. According to eyewitness reports, the APC did so with all freedom while the PDP had to do so while avoiding arrest. Then the voters showed their ballot papers to the party agents who had coerced them to vote for their party. This election was nothing short of a fraud and it’s ominous of what the duo of APC and PDP plan to do in the next election.
It has been well established that we still need to work on our voters sensitization campaign, not just about telling people to get their voter’s card but ensuring they vote according to their conscience and the right factors.
To be honest, I personally do not see this phenomenon of buying votes ending anytime soon until we are able to raise the standards of living of the general populace and have a government which is solely committed to the preservation of our growing democracy.
In other words, economically empower them to a sufficient extent that paltry monetary incentives are not enough to entice one to sell his/her votes. A government committed to protecting the rule of law will by all means beef up security to prevent any measure of election malpractice. If there’s anything the Ekiti state election has shown us, it’s that this government has no plan to ensure a free and fair election.
Perhaps, I would say they plan to ‘rig legitimately’. It is not only time to get our voter’s card and encourage others to do so, but also ensure that no matter what happens we are protecting our democracy by not selling our votes.
But for me, no matter the situation, my vote is not for sale!