Southeast leads in vote-buying, northwest in voter suppression – CDD

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The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has said in its report that vote buying and political violence characterised voting in the southeast and northwest respectively during the governorship and state houses of assembly elections held last Saturday, March 18.

The non-government said in a press statement yesterday that voters were more concerned with pecuniary interest than what the office seekers stand for.

 The centre blamed cote-buying on economic hardship brought about by the seeming interminable biting cash crunch.

It said voters were induced with as little as N1, 000, N2, 000, toiletries, and clothing materials, among others to vote for the candidate dictated by the vote merchant.

“In total, 25.3 percent of observers noted vote buying at their polling units across the country with the highest figures reported in the northwest (35.4 percent) and southeast (41.4 percent),” the statement reads.

“In Anambra State, party agents were observed using materials, phones, and other souvenirs to entice voters. In the south-south, multiple party agents reported a desire for voters to show proof of their vote before being paid, with party agents reportedly compiling a list of their voters in Esan Central LGA, Edo state.

“The prevailing economic hardship in the country – 133 million Nigerians were estimated to be multi-dimensionally poor in 2022 according to the National Bureau of Statistics – and the continued shortages of fuel and particularly Naira were undoubtedly a factor in this.

“Votes were being traded for between N1, 000-2,000 in parts of Edo and Benue states for example, with goods of similar value used in many cases in lieu of cash given the continued currency shortages. Across the region, manifestations of vote buying included the use of fabric, toiletries, ‘I-owe-you-vouchers’ and food items,” it said

On electoral violence, the centre said it was more in the northwest with voters being threatened with death in some polling units.

“Voter suppression, voter intimidation, and the destruction or theft of election materials predominantly by political party agents and politically aligned thugs were recorded across all six geopolitical zones,” it said.

“A total of 10.8 percent of observed polling units recorded violence and/or fighting; this was most pronounced in the northwest (19.9 percent) and south-south (11.6 percent) geopolitical zones with Bayelsa and Zamfara, the two states with the most incidents recorded by our observers.

“These violent incidents were often focused in political strongholds of opposition or perceived opponents which suggest that the use of BVAS – which can limit over-voting in principle has resulted in a more concerted effort to stymie votes than to try and stuff ballot boxes in order to rig the outcome of an election.

“Conventional forms of voter suppression were recorded by observers across the northwest zone and most apparent in Zamfara where the bandits and vigilante groups, particularly Yan Sakai, were reported to have threatened voters with death if they voted for the incumbent.

“Similar incidents of intimidation were reported in all geo-political zones, and were most pronounced in the southeast zone (9.8 per cent as compared with a nationwide average of 4.7 percent), with party agents involved. In Lagos, for example, voters were told to vote for the incumbent or they would be flogged in Langbasa and Ado primary schools in Ajah LGA.”

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