VOTE BUYING AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA A CASE STUDY OF EKITI STATE
Background to the Study
Money has become a dominant, determinant factor in Nigeria’s politics. The poor are likely to be victimized by vote buying because their limited means makes them susceptible to material inducements, including offers of basic commodities or modest amounts of money. Vote buying, in its literal sense, is a simple economic exchange–candidates ‘buy’ and electorates ‘sell’ votes, as they buy and sell goods and services (Nwosu, 2009).
In vote buying transactions in Nigeria, voters are usually offered money, commodities such as food or clothing, and jobs. In countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe and Uganda, cash-for-vote transactions are quite limited and exchange of votes for goods and services are most common. For example, in Malawi, the government’s farm input subsidy initiative has widely been observed as susceptible to political manipulation where issuing of coupons for inputs ‘indirectly’ translate to vote buying. The practice rests upon payoffs that are not directly and explicitly tied to reciprocity in the polling booth. The ‘highest bidder’ emerges the winner (Ojo,2007)
Unlike in other African countries where vote buying takes place prominently during campaign period, in Nigeria it takes place at multiple stages of the electoral cycle and has been observed eminently during voter registration, nomination period, campaign and election day. It also occurs at various institutional levels in the polity–for example, in the legislature, where votes are bought to illegally enact laws that would favourparticular individuals or groups
Many Scholars such as (Davies, 2005, Walecki 2006, Scaffer 2005, Schedler 2005, Ojo 2006) have written on vote buying in Nigerian politics because of the devastating effect of the phenomenon on the body politics. The Nigerian state often experiences governmental instability in the forms of bad policy options and implementation. The basic necessities of life such as electricity supply, water supply, employment and quality education are lacking in the Nigerian society. Democracy which is adjudged to be the best form of government all over the world is also being constantly assaulted in Nigeria due to the phenomenon of vote buying. Although, Nigeria enthroned democratic governance in the fourth republic on May 29th, 1999, the dividends of democracy to the people are very scant and far apart. This is because the concept and practice of democracy appears to be at variance in Nigeria. Actually money and vote buying have vitiated the good qualities of democracy in the country including Ondo State. In fact, the destructive power of vote buying has been fingered as one of the factors that undermine good governance in Nigeria.
The role that money and vote buying play in Nigeria politics today have earned them a dominant position in the election of officers into position of authority where they can authoritatively decide who gets what, when and how. Money seems to have taken the center stage in the political process in most countries and in Nigerian politics, it is, sadly, now playing an increasing critical role to such an extent that the word, ‘vote buying’ with a pejorative connotation, have crept into the country’s political lexicon”, (Davies: 2006). The problem with this situation is that the electoral process is often compromised resulting in elections not being free and fair.
It is pertinent to observe that it is not in any way being suggested that the use of money by political parties or any person or group of persons in politics has inherent corruptive influence. The truth is that money is needed for sundry services and logistics such as mobilization for political campaigns and rallies, printing of posters and manifestoes, production of party emblems and other symbols etc. The only worry, however, is the noticeable corrupting influence of money and vote-buying, and their negative impact on good governance in Nigeria.
Vote buying can be defined as the phenomenon in the Nigeria electoral process whereby contestants for elective positions used money or money is used on their behalf as an inducement to sway their support which is not based on persuading the electorates to vote according to their wish and conviction but on the force of money that has changed hands. Related to this, is outright vote-buying. Vote-buying in its literal sense, is a simple economic exchange. According to (Fredrick Charles and Andrea’s Schedler 2005) candidates ‘buy’ and citizens/electorates ‘sell “vote, as they buy and sell apples, shoes or television sets”. The act of vote-buying by this view is a contract or perhaps an auction in which voters sell their votes to the highest bidder. Parties candidates buy vote by offering particularistic material benefits to voters. Candidates may generally aspire to purchase political support at the ballot box in accordance with the idea of market exchange. For analytical purpose, it is necessary to point out, that the commercial aspirations of vote buyers’ may run into two barriers, namely; objective and inter-subjective barriers. On the objective side, seller compliance is uncertain, as vote buying is an illicit business and as such does not take place within a “normal’ market protected by social and legal norms. On the inter-subjective side, empirical accounts of participants’ perspective revealed that those electoral practices we describe as “Vote-Buying” may carry different meaning in different cultural context.
This is so because, in both historical and comparative perspective, vote-buying as a phenomenon is neither system specific nor space bound (Ojo: 2006). In all systems, be it developed or developing, medieval or contemporary, vote buying occurs in all regions and climes. The only difference is that it differs in magnitude and manifestation from one polity to the other.
The use of money to buy votes does not even stop at election time. It is a common practice in Nigeria as it is in many other countries, for numerous private interest groups and political action committees which seek policy goals and legislations to serve their narrow private needs to continue to use all the means at their disposal including money, to solidify or expand their influence on the elected officials (Wright: 1985). It is observed that the relative ease with which the elected officials show their gratitude by endorsing the legislative and policy proposals of campaign contributors seems to support the hypothesis that there is a correlation between special donations to political parties and candidates and legislative votes.
Consequently, according to Sohner (1973) “money has in fact, been made to become the mothers’ milk of politics, which the political gladiators must drink to remain in business”. Good governance which suffers because of the phenomenon of money politics and vote-buying can be defined as all the governmental and institutional arrangements in a polity which are operated on the basis of strict compliance with the tenets and practices of democracy. All stakeholders must uphold the tenets of access to quality education, economic empowerment, effective health-care delivery system, rule of law and other necessary social amenities. All seem to agree that democracy is the best and the most civilized method of governance known to man. Consequently it has attracted much attention from both scholars and statesmen. Regrettably however, there is no known definition of the concept that is universally acceptable. This is, perhaps, due to its atavistic nature.
To begin the conceptual elucidation on democratic consolidation is perhaps the operationalization of the concept of democracy itself. Therefore, democracy in this study stands for a people-centered system of government, which entails periodic popular elections, in which the sanctity of the electoral process is strictly guaranteed. Implicit in this position is the connotation that democracy not only allows mass participation, by way of encouraging the electorate to participate in the selection of their representatives, but also that democracy is nourished by transparency and accountability in public administration (Yagboyaju 2013). It should be emphasized that democracy thrives better in many parts of the world where there are also strong democratic institutions. In other words, democratic principles thrive and are more effective when they are supported by strong institutions of modern government (Yagboyaju2013). Therefore, when Yagboyaju, cites Ake (2006) as opining that democracy is about principles rather than about institutional forms, there appears to be a contentious issue in this proposition.
According to Yagboyaju, Ake had argued that it is the principles of public accountability, mass participation, majority rule, and minority rights that define democracy as a concept. Thus, citing Mimiko (2010), Yagboyaju concludes that it follows therefore, that any political system that provides for these principles qualifies to be called a democracy (anyone that does not, no matter the majesty of physical infrastructure of democracy put in place, cannot justifiably refer to itself as a democracy). The problematic issue here is that the sanctity of these principles is a function of the majesty of physical democratic infrastructure – the excellence of strong democratic institutions. Hence, according to Ogundiya (2009) cited in Akubo and Yakubu (2014), democratic consolidation is about regime maintenance and about regarding the key political institutions as the only framework for political contestation and adherence to the democratic rules of the game. Democratic consolidation should therefore consequently connote a consistent and sustained practice of democratic principles (Yagboyaju 2013).
Beyond conceptual orthodoxy however, democratic consolidation might as well be denoted as when democracy is being consolidated (when democracy is being consolidated in defence of the people-centeredness of the precepts of democracy). Democracy is therefore, a system of government and a system of defence. It is a system for defending the powers of the people against usurpation by political goons. Democracy defends the hopes of a people against onslaught by sundry intruders. Therefore, in the context of developing democracies, the stronger the defense mechanisms of democracy the nearer the tendencies of the system towards democratic consolidation.
Hence, democratic consolidation critically refers to the growing of the defense mechanisms of democracy. Consequently, democratic consolidation is a process. It is not an accomplishment. Some scholars tend to view democratic consolidation as a realization – an achievement. According to Valenzuela (1990) cited in Akubo and Yakubu (2014), the building of a consolidated democracy involves in part an affirmation and strengthening of certain institutions, such as the electoral system, revitalized or newly created parties, judicial independence and respect for human rights, which have been created or recreated during the course of the transition. In this context, democratic consolidation becomes a post-transitional condition, curiously akin to some developmental fixity. Yagboyaju (2013) further opines that democratic consolidation could be said to effectively prevail in most mature and advanced democracies of the world, where many of the prominent democratic principles largely constitute the political culture.
But democratic consolidation is a lot more than all of this. In fact, democratic consolidation is a feature of all democracies. While the need for building the defence mechanisms of democracy may be more pronounced in emerging democracies, all democracies are prone to attacks that necessitate the fortification of democracy. It is this process of fortification that is democratic consolidation. Democratic consolidation therefore is not an end in itself. Hence, the issue of a consolidated democracy is out of consideration. This is because, assuming that such a state is attainable, the subsequent development will invariably translate to a different type of monstrosity which would be anathema to strong democratic ideals.
Statement of the Problem
Vote buying in Nigeria functions as a means for the perpetration of violence, fuelling class consciousness, and solidarity, acquisition of political power and socio-economic gains, massive killings and the wanton destruction of lives and vandalizing of property of those considered infidels or who pay allegiance to other candidates. This is traced to the acrimony between the two dominant parties which had often resulted in the struggle for power and supremacy, bitter feud and wanton destruction of lives and properties. This political madness had like a cataclysmic vortex devastated the ground for sustainable national development..
Virtually all Nigeria’s post-colonial governments to date have been thrust to power without a concise national ideology, let alone a popular and liberating one. Also, nothing has really changed. Consequently, the Nigerian political system had not developed much since the colonial period (Amuwo, 2009). Amuwo further posits that in theory, political parties are premised on the concept of political inclusivity and anchored in political participation. In practice, however, parties are born mainly due to political exclusivity, that is to say, for purposes of wresting power and controlling the masses. There are likely to be few parties where politics and elections are structured by ideologies about the use to which power is put. Consequently, where ideologies are lacking and political formations are bereft of identity, as in Nigeria, we are confronted with the efflorescence of several look-alike political parties, differentiated only by the fatness of the purse of their main sponsors and the unique mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of their leaders (Amuwo, 2009). Invariably, the electorate is left without options. Voting is done based on nothing.Election campaigns are reduced to disco sessions. In place of orators, the process produces inelegant speakers, who have no ideologies to propagate.
The participation of women in the democratic process in Nigeria is stilllargely ephemeral and peripheral. In the name of women empowerment, women are merely given appointments into public offices, as a demonstration of the increasing sophistication of democracy in the Nigerian State. But when they indicate interest to stand for elections as candidates of the major political parties in the Nigerian system, they are hardly afforded the opportunity. They turn to the minor-league political parties, which easily avail them their platforms and subsequently, the electorate dismisses them as jokers. The only evident visibility of women in the major political parties in Nigeria is when they feature in the women-wing of the parties, as they add colour and razzmatazz to electioneering campaigns. Okoronkwo-Chukwu (2013) has amply demonstrated that women are still immensely under-represented in the democratic system in Nigeria. Arowolo and Aluko (2010) also expressed the view that the low level of political participation of the Nigerian woman is becoming alarming and disturbing. Since the emergence of political independence in 1960, Nigerian women have remained invisible in the political process (Falade, 2014). Luka (2011) concludes that the exclusion of women from participation on the economic and political fronts is an affront to the spirit and values of democratic governance. It is indeed, an affront to democratic consolidation.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine vote buying and democratic consolidation in Nigeria a case study of Ekiti State. The specific objectives are to
- To examine the reason for vote buying
- To examine the effects of vote buying
- Factors responsible for vote-buying
- To examine challenges facing democratic consolidation
The following research questions were raised;
- What are the reason for vote buying
- What are the effects of vote buying
- What are the factors responsible for vote-buying
- What are the challenges facing democratic consolidation in Nigeria
Significance of the Study
Vote buying have had very serious consequences on the development of Nigeria in all spheres of life, serious attention needs to be drawn towards addressing the issue, as it is a delicate issue which hinges on the survival of the nation.
Thus, the following people will benefit from the study government, particularly policy makers and administrators, politicians, traditional and religious leaders, security operatives and all those who are interested in the pursuance of peace and unity, and finally, the general public, in that it will serve as a model which can be consulted in crisis times for proper and effective solution to the challenges of electoral malpractice.
This study will provide more information that would add to the existing knowledge already available about electoral malpractice and political ambitions in Nigeria, and its implication on national development. It is hoped that the outcome of this study would arose further interest and research into other aspects of unity and national peace, as it affects not only Nigeria, but the entire global society
Delimitation of the Study
The scope of this study is delimited to examine vote buying and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. The scope is also delimited toEkiti State only.
Limitation of the Study
This study might encounter some challenges which include problems relating to too much officialdom, bureaucratic red-tape, secrecy over security issues which might hinder or slow down the release of relevant materials needed for this study, most especially because of the fact that the topic under study is a very delicate one, which hinges on the continuous existence of the Nigerian state.
However, the researcher aims at overcoming these challenges through hard work, effective, careful and critical examination and interpretation of the data collected.
Definition of Terms
The following terms are operationally define as used in the study;
Vote;- Oxford advanced learners dictionary 8th editions opined that vote is a formal choice that you make in an election or at a meeting in other to choose somebody or decide something. It’s an occasion when a group of people vote on something to have and take a vote on issue. Vote is a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or body of individuals. The means by which such expression is made, as a ballot, ticket, etc. … the decision reached by voting, as by a majority of ballots cast
Vote Buying –: vote buying as a simple economic transaction: parties and candidates distribute material benefits to individual citizens in exchange for support at the ballot box. In the political arena, the denunciatory term “vote buying” covers activities like the distribution of food bags, the purchase of vote cards, the targeting of social transfers, and the delivery of public services to local communities.
Political Party-Political partyin a democracy exist and operate within a particular party system. A political party is also defined as an organized group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions, that seek to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office
Violence- The use of physical force, especially physical force utilized with malice and the attempt to harm someone. Some can’t have ruled that in labor disputes, violence includes picketing with false information on the placards, in an attempt to harm a business.
Thuggery – Is defined as an act of violence or behavior by ruffians hired or instigated by politicians to intimidate their opponents. It is therefore safe to say that thurggery in Nigerian politics is a mean to an end.
Malpractice; – In the law of torts, malpractice is an instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional. Malpractice is a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skills or learning by.
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