“MY VOTE IS FOR SALE!”
In a random street interview, Mr. Pius, an artisan, was asked about his opinion on vote buying. He wasn’t hesitant to say that if he sees a good offer he wouldn’t mind to get paid to vote for the highest bidder. Trust me, his response is reflective of many potential voters whose interest is in the immediate financial gratification.
For Pius, Nigerian politics has not benefited many Nigerians, and it is useless to believe in the promises of our politicians. ‘Therefore, whatever I can get in the immediate, I will accept since am not sure of what the future holds’, he enthused. This submission by Mr. Pius, a graduate of Arts turned driver is heartbreaking and sad!
Truth is, we are fed up with the recycling of politicians, tribalism and zoning of national leaders that only promotes individual and regional interests! All we are asking for are caring, selfless and visionary leaders who would take us out of the miry clay of poverty and underdevelopment and put us at par with developed nations, irrespective of political affiliations.
We need leaders who will not only be proud they have provided us water, roads, free lunch, power and what have you, but servant-leaders who would exceed expectations and execute innovative programs that would make our country an envy in the commonwealth of nations.
We don’t want to continue to live with failed and unfulfilled promises, manifestos and agendas that are only pronounced during election campaigns and on the pages of Newspapers. We have circled this mountain too long and we refuse to be deceived any further. We no longer want to be named among the corrupt, the extremely poor, the desperate, or the unfortunate nations. We are a land flowing with milk and honey and we want to eat of the good fruits of the land.
A slum in Nigeria
When it was recently published that Nigeria has overtaken Indian in poverty index as the country with most extreme poor people in the world, the Nigerian government immediately dismissed this facts as it is their custom to refute unfriendly criticism which in their opinion seeks to undermine the development efforts of the government.
When India was ahead on poverty index why did the Nigerian government not say that the report from the Bookings institution was false? Why did we not refute the report that Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa, even though our unemployment rate is on the rise?
But my query is, what evidence can the government show as their effort to eradicate poverty—partial rehabilitated roads, unfair ban on importation of staple foods, provision of inadequate security, zero unemployment or fight against corruption? In spite of the policies that are said to be introduced by past and present administrations, why is 50% of our population still rated extremely poor? Search me!
The issue of poverty, borne out of corruption and incompetence has been the bane of successive governments in Nigeria, and an indication that not much has been done to eradicate this phenomenon which continues to plunge our nation into disrepute and shame amongst the community of nations.
The World Poverty Clock shows Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world.
Rather than save face in the face of glaring evidences, or politicize the issue of poverty, I think the government at all levels should work at alleviating the abject poverty that has subjected over 87m, Nigerians into tortuous living. In spite of claims that a lot is being done to eradicate poverty, the reality is that poverty and unemployment figures have sky-rocketed in the past 12 months.
While some of the world’s biggest countries have managed to reduce extreme poverty, despite its vast oil riches and impressive economic growth, Nigeria has struggled to lift its people out of poverty over the past three decades. And rather than get better it has grown even worst, and change of political leaderships have done us little or no good.
In my opinion, poverty is partly responsible for why our corrupt politicians thrive. Poverty and unemployment is responsible for crimes, insurgency, vote buying and all manner of vices in our society. It has become a weapon in their hands to achieve their political interests.
“Make them poor and get their votes.” That’s the ideology many politicians leverage on to subject many to their schemes and caprices. They thrive on the poverty, illiteracy and gullibility of some voters. Allegedly, they reason that if the people are not educated, they will be disconnected from realities, and as such they will remain subservient.
The enlightened are really not the target of many politicians because of their reasoning capacity. Unfortunately, many of those you would find at the polling stations are the traders, and artisan, the elderly, and many jobless, many of whom, had enough time to secure a voters card, or have been promised a reward. They make the people poor so that they will continue to be dependent on them.
They say, “the more poor people the more votes you get.” It is ridiculous how much votes are purchased in Nigeria. Recently, we learnt that some parties paid voters to buy their conscience while some gave gifts in exchange for votes. A quarter of a bag of rice or its cash equivalents. Some were paid as much as $11 to vote for a particular political party, right at the polling booth.
Vote buying and election malpractices diminishes us a people when we are not able to conduct elections appropriately and without bias. Its shameful to know that many of our politicians are so desperate that they want to buy votes. This is only made possible by the deliberate impoverishment of Nigerians.
I think that the buying of votes should be criminalized. There should be a legislature against vote buying. The relevant authorities should quickly nip this development in the bud by prosecuting offenders. The INEC should criminalize vote buying. Furthermore, both the buyers and sellers should be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Nigerians, and of course Africans should arise and take their destinies into their hands. Let us kick against leaders who are out to gratify their own selfish ambitions in disregard of our human rights. Let us not be like Esau who sold his birthright for a plate of potage. Let us do right and vote right.
Get your PVC. Be objective; vote your conscience, vote right!
We are winning! Yes, we are winning!