‘Financial inducement bane of our electoral process’
The bane of cash for votes in electioneering process in Nigeria re-echoed in Lokoja, capital of Kogi State at the gathering of members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), when the party state secretariat was inaugurated.
Incidents of money exchanging hands for votes characterised the Edo State governorship election last month, with two major parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused of being the main culprits.
“We started on time but the only hitch we had were some APC agents inducing voters with N3000 and standing right beside the ballot box compelling them to show them their thumbprint ballot paper as a confirmation that they voted for them. We have raised alarm and we cried out and the security agents are up to the task,” a complainant alleged on the Edo election.
This challenge in the electoral process has been attributed largely to the ignorance on the part of the electorate resulting in disloyalty and sale of members right through the voters’ cards.
The resultant effect is the failure to deepen democracy in Nigeria as democratic tenets have increasingly become difficult to entrench in the country.
This was the view of the APGA candidate for last November governorship election in Kogi, Goodman Akwu who lamented the negative impact of financial inducement in elections.
According to him, the problem is rooted in ignorance resulting in disloyalty among members of the party.
He claimed that his party lost the election not because it was not popular but because the electorates were not well informed.
Akwu warned the electorate against selling of their votes citing the instance of Edo State, where money changed hands for voters’ cards.
“The pictures are there, they bought permanent voters’ cards (PVC) up to N15, 000 to N20, 000. They should stop selling their voters’ cards to those economic terrorists that wear the toga of politicians,” he stated.
He advised the electorate to ensure that they always vote with their conscience and not use their voters’ cards as ATM (automated teller machine), as it was wrong to use the PVC to withdraw money from the moneybags.
The former governorship candidate advised his party members and supporters to be loyal to the party always; to be loyal to the country, the State and the authority in place at the moment in time as that was the only way to move the state forward.
He explained that the Lokoja Office of the party was being inaugurated to usher in good governance in Kogi State.
He said this would be achieved through the cooperation of everyone and the newly constituted Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Party installed by him.
Akwu admonished the members to see themselves as the vehicle that would take the party to all nooks and crannies of the State.
The CWC has Comrade Danjuma M. Lawal as chairman with Pastor Emmanuel Idakwo serving as the clerk. Other members are: Funke Alabi, Comrade Oceni Adams, Lawal D. Jibril, M.D. Yusuf, Samuel Olori Able Abel Monday, Abdulkareem Shaibu, Ibrahim Suleiman Fatima Binta Ibrahim and Joseph Achema.
He charged them to be loyal to the Constitution of Nigeria as well as to the Constitution and manifesto of APGA.
Besides, Akwu used the occasion to debunk speculations in the public domain that he was persuaded to keep off the Supreme Court over the alleged missing Logo of his party during the November election.
He said he did not go to court over any missing logo, stressing: “On the party logo, it sounds so strange to me because I ran in the election, I cast my vote. If my logo was missing on the ballot paper I couldn’t have voted.
“The case we took to court was about the way and manner somebody was brought in which we felt was against the extant law that border on election. I never took the case of missing logo to court.”
“If that was my case no judge or court would have been able to stop it. To clear all doubts today and finally, the case I took to court was not about missing logo because our logo was not missing.”
However, he advised the state government to be responsive to the feelings of the people particularly by addressing the hunger and starvation confronting the people.
In addition, he criticized what he described as the endless screening of state workers, saying “Government is not doing any favor when it pays salary. There should be a time lag for screening, you don’t start a Government with screening and end with screening.”
Akwu admonished governor Yahaya Bello to stop the screening for now and pay the workers their money, noting that thereafter the government can continue with the screening and even prosecute those found wanting.
He said that the onus was on the people to vote for APGA in the next election and see what is meant to enjoy dividends of democracy as is obtaining presently in Anambra state.
“Anambra State is the only State that is presently governed by APGA and it is the only State with benchmark for good governance and development,” he maintained.