Money Politics In Nigeria
Vote Buying, Money Politics, Election, Nigerian Political issue
“Vote for Sale” has become a phrase that is synonymous with Nigerian elections. Right from the day the military transferred power to civilian administration, the need to acquire and retain political positions has become the order of the day by politicians. Political aspirants continuously fight, giving cash and other gifts to induce the electorate.
Money politics can be traced back to the first republic in Nigerian history when ethnicity and regionalism were the order of the day. This was basically because religious leaders of those groups had ties with the traditional rulers and partly as a result of the parliamentary system of governance practiced by the Nigerian State in the first republic. Dudley (1982) rightly observes that Candidates in the elections were less important as the parties took the centre stage; ethnicity encouraged alliance politics and highly emotive terms were used which in most cases incited people to violence. Most of the election expenses were borne by the parties from the funds they were able to raise (Dudley, 1982:68).
This menace was worsened in the second republic in 1979 by some civil servants and other business tycoons who made their money during the civil war, 1967 to 1970 (Ovwasa, 2013). These business men aided the supply of arms and ammunitions and made their money. They seized the opportunity given by the military for competitive politics. There was so much display of affluence and use of money by the wealthy contractors and the mercantile class that those who emerged victorious in the conventions and the primaries of some of the political parties, notably the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) belonged to the business-managerial group (Davies, 2006).
Also, in 1993, the situation did not get better as parties involved were accused of bribing party functionaries with huge sums. Money was paid to party functionaries, who were demanding and negotiating the amount of money to be given to them for payment to win offices and others, and for how votes will be allocated to aspirants (Nwosu, 1996:78). Ajayi (2013) states that one of the reasons for cancelling the election was that of excessive use of funds; this trend increased in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. The use of money in the 1999 elections was open, shameless and that of 2003 was outrageously indecent (Abdulrahman et al., 2013).
Recently, the 2015 presidential election and the 2016 gubernatorial election in Edo State took a frightening dimension in that money was literally distributed to voters in polling centres. The Premiumtimes newspaper of 1st October, 2016 has it that INEC received 29 calls and SMS that some people were inducing voters with money during the Edo 2016 gubernatorial election. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Peoples Congress (APC) were the two major parties alleged to be involved. Gozie Agbakoba of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who claimed that he lost because he did not share money or bags of rice, stated that one cannot win elections in Nigeria without sharing cash or kind.
© 2017 Oweziem Sylvester