The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has said that Nigerians must reject inducements to sway their votes through vote buying.
He said they must also engage effectively in stopping the negative use of money in the nation’s electoral process generally by reporting cases to the Commission and other agencies.
Speaking at a one-day Stakeholders Summit on Addressing the Influence of Money in the 2023 general election the INEC boss said in addition, civil society organisations should make this a major plank of both their pre-election and election observation activities.
He appealed that financial institution, religious organisations, traditional institutions, the media, civic bodies and above all, citizens must also join in this fight.
“Let me seize this opportunity to remind the public that the ban on cell phones at voting cubicles is still in force. We have for some time now reorganised our Polling Units so that ballot boxes are placed next to the voting cubicles to forestall the practice by unscrupulous voters of showing their marked ballot papers to vote buyers.
“We appeal to voters to draw the attention of our polling officials wherever they observe that these basic rules are not complied with.
“Let me once again reassure Nigerians that we are determined to ensure a solid election management system and a legacy of credible elections in Nigeria. We believe that every conscientious Nigerian wants us to do so.
“As a Commission, we harbour no illusion that it is going to be easy to root out the negative influence of money on our elections, but we are determined to tackle it.
“We fully realise that today’s initiative will not go down well with people who may not be committed to the growth of our electoral system and the consolidation of our democracy.
“We expect them to fight back. There will be both covert and overt pressure, countervailing actions and even threats by these vested interests. I wish to reiterate that our loyalty is to Nigeria and our allegiance is to Nigerians. We are committed to working with the collaborating agencies to see that this initiative succeeds in the 2023 General Election and beyond”, he added.
Speaking further, Professor Yakubu reiterated the Commission’s resolve to continue to employ both technology and administrative measures to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process.
He assured Nigerians that preparation for the 2023 General Election is on course and that the Commission shall not be swayed from that course.
“Be assured that the BVAS has come to stay. Electronic transmission of results has come to stay. Public display of Polling Unit results through the IReV has come to stay, with today’s initiative; the elimination of the negative use of money in our electoral process will be tackled head-on.
“Once again, I would like to appreciate the Nigeria Police and other security and safety agencies, the ICPC, the EFCC, the NBC and ARCON for their support and partnership. I would similarly like to appreciate the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), political parties, civil society organisations, trade unions, professional bodies, financial institutions and all our invited guests for honouring our invitation and for standing by INEC in our shared commitment to credible elections in Nigeria. We also extend our appreciation to the MacArthur Foundation and Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) for their partnership and support. (Nigerian Pilot)