By Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ahead of the Osun State gubernatorial and general elections in 2023, the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to curb the vote buying.
The organization which has listed violent and heavily monetized primaries as obstacles to a genuine democratic system has warned that vote buying remains a virulent threat to Nigerian democracy.
In a statement titled ‘Red Flags for Nigerian Democracy’, NAS Capoon, Mr. Abiola Owoaje stressed that the vote buying that took place during Ekiti’s governorship on June 18 should not be repeated in Osun and during the general elections. .
Owoaje, who noted that the NAS “is very disturbed by the deepening of these troubling trends surrounding Nigeria’s electoral process”, added that “it is shameful and despicable that after 23 years of uninterrupted civilian rule, the parties politicians and their candidates are so deeply involved in the electoral process”. unsavory financial incentive for the electorate to procure votes”.
“We believe that democracy can only thrive when the electorate is empowered and encouraged to choose their leaders and representatives through a transparent process, free from coercion or inducement. No country can claim respect for democratic precepts and values if its citizens cannot elect leaders or representatives in a free and fair manner. The use of bribes by political parties before or during elections puts an indelible question mark on the credibility of the electoral process, mocks democracy and undermines its raison d’être,” he said. declared.
While blaming those willing to buy votes and those willing to trade votes, Owoaje said the latter lose after selling votes, lose the right to hold elected leaders accountable, resulting in a major disconnect between the people and elected leaders after the elections.
He called for the prosecution of all those arrested in connection with the Ekiti vote-buying and urged INEC and security agencies to devise a foolproof strategy to minimize party operatives’ access to electorate during the voting process.
The statement reads in part as follows: “The National Assembly should expedite the process of passing the bill establishing the National Electoral Offenses Commission and Tribunal before the 2023 general elections. passed second reading in the House of Representatives had already been passed by the Senate in 2021. Just as recommended by the Electoral Reform Committee headed by Justice Mohammed Uwais in 2007, the Election Offenses Commission would be tasked with investigating and prosecuting election violators by effectively relieving the INEC. Prompt prosecution of electoral violators would strengthen and clean up Nigeria’s shaky electoral system. The Federal Government and all relevant agencies must do their utmost to safeguard the Nigerian electoral process; under no circumstances should we allow anti-democratic forces to sabotage our democracy.