By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The United Progressive Party (UPP) has expressed fear that with what happened in the governorship election held last Saturday in Anambra state, there are chances that kidnappers, treasury looters, armed robbers and money launders will emerge as Governors in the 2019 general election.
Briefing journalists in Abuja on the party’s position regarding the Anambra election, the National chairman of the party, Chekwas Okorie, said that Nigerians were only treated with the television coverage of the election, adding that votes were massively bought at polling booths.
Okorie, who said the party is not contradicting the position of the governorship candidate who had already congratulated the winner of the governorship election, Willie Obinao, explained that what happened during the election was a bazaar of vote buying where only the highest bidder can emerge victorious.
He said the three political parties including All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) were competing to outsmart each other in the business
of vote buying, adding that at the end, it was the candidate who outsmarted the others in vote buying that was declared winner.
While alerting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the National Assembly and the Nigerians on what it described as the unsavory dimension Nigeria’s democracy has assumed, UPP expressed concern that if this is not nipped in the bud, it will give complete new definition and dimension to democracy in Nigeria.
“UPP is disappointed that most observers that commented on the Anambra governorship election have tended to play down on the danger posed to our democracy by the monetization and commercialization of the election.
“What happened in the full glare of the general public with some of the drama already streaming in the social media is that political parties, especially APGA, PDP, and APC set up shops at virtually all the polling units to bid for and buy votes.
“The difference in votes won by these three parties is only in their individual capacity to outbid one another at different places. In such bazaar the highest bidder always wins,” Okorie said.
The UPP chairman also defended the voters, saying it is difficult to blame them because they were rendered vulnerable by the un-performing government in the state that they could not resist the lure of N20,000, N10,000, and N5,000 as the case may be, to cast their votes as required, to earn the windfall.
He said the most unfortunate aspect of the trend was that the show of shame in buying of votes took place in the full glare of the security agencies that covered the election, adding that accredited observers and journalists witnessed the malfeasance and made their findings public.
“If this is allowed to gain root, then criminals, money launders, treasury looters and their likes will take-over the political space, occupy juicy elective and appointive offices in Nigeria from the next democratic encounter in 2019”, he said.
To this end, UPP charged the National Assembly to without further delay, and in the interest of Nigeria’s democracy, pass all necessary laws to usher in full electronic voting system, which will decentralize voting points and allow voters to vote from their homes.
He said the law should also adequately empower INEC to prosecute offenders of election funding provision, adding that there should be strict law prohibiting any person from carrying a certain amount of money within the vicinity of a polling unit.