Thuggery and vote-buying cannot be overlooked in Nigeria’s political setting as the country heads to the polls for Saturday’s presidential and other elections.
Previous elections had witnessed incidences of snatching of election materials and the killing of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by political thugs. In most cases, the thugs are armed by wealthy politicians who desperately want to assume political offices.
It is, therefore, the duty of the Federal Government to support the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to provide security for eligible voters who will troop out to cast their votes in the various polling centres across the country.
But the electoral umpire, has, however, explained that on its part, it has already sensitized Nigerians and electorates on vote-buying, thuggery and also educated them on how to cast their votes.
According to INEC, the act of vote-buying was condemnable, stressing that the commission has done everything within its power to stop vote-buying.
No Nigerian would be allowed to cast his or her ballot without the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), INEC told DAILY POST.
INEC’s Deputy Director of Publicity, Abuja chapter, Mr Aliyu Bello, interacted with DAILY POST exclusively on some challenges that inhibit free, fair and credible elections.
Asked to explain efforts INEC has made in sensitizing Nigerians on vote-buying, Bello said, “Vote buying is highly condemnable and the commission never condoled such act. In fact, within the power of the commission, everything we could do, we have been doing to stop vote buying.
“Remember in Osun election, the commission had to review with polling unit sections to prevent vote buyers and to pro-visual the sanctity of the votes.
“Going forward, in 2019 general elections, new strategies have been put in place on a very large scale the idea of discouraging voters from entering the voting cubicle with their cell phones, to prevent the voters from using their cell phones to take photographs or pictures of the ballot papers for ultimate dimension benefits.”
Bello said that the commission has been engaging all stakeholders to sensitize the youths on the need to stay away from thuggery.
Asked to explain efforts INEC has made in sensitizing Nigerians on thuggery, Bello said: “The commission has been engaging most robustly with all stakeholders to sensitize the youths on the need to be more actively engaged in the process rather than going against the process and creating confusion through thuggery which may not add value, but create a very serious distraction.
“And you can realize that by now, many youths have joined the campaign against thuggery. So we are looking forward to having a free, fair and peaceful election in 2019.”
Bello also said that the electorate are expected to use their thumbs to thumbprint on the party of their choice.
He said: “Voters are expected to use their thumbs to thumbprint on the party of their choices. However, where other fingers are used in place of thumb, that does not invalidate the ballot or the vote. ”