Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara has condemned the distribution of cash by public officials during campaigns.
Backstory: Dogara said no matter how noble the intent may be, cash distribution at campaigns is tantamount to vote buying and inducement, which is a clear case of corruption.
Dogara was speaking at a public hearing organized by the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent and National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Political Parties Matters on Vote-buying and Improving the Electoral Processes in Nigeria.
He said inducing the public with cash in exchange for votes is an act of fraud which is covered within section 124 (1)(a);(b);(c); Section(124)(2)(4)(5) and Section 130 of the Electoral Act.
He added that the act also contravenes the fundamental objectives of state policy enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution.
Hon Dogara explained that “Vote-buying and other sundry criminal manipulations of the electoral process in Nigeria have left our citizens in a state of unmitigated disaster.”
“Our democracy has stagnated and will sadly remain so until we eliminate all sham elections which have the effect of throwing up the worst of us to lead the best of us,” he said.
He further added, “I hope we will have the courage at this event to address the distribution of cash to the public very close to general elections by public officials.”
Dogara noted that “Although penalties are not stringent, there is also lack of political will to implement the laws as it is, even if it were to offer feeble deterrence to violators. Arrests are hardly made and even where arrests are made, prosecutions are unheard of.”
He stressed that free, fair, credible and transparent elections are the basis for translating the consent of the governed into governmental authority.
The speaker thus called on Nigerians and members of the global community to rise up for free, fair and credible elections and fight against the phenomenon of electoral fraud.
“As citizens, we must not surrender to this criminality as we cannot do so and still expect honor. When political office holders defy the law and corruptly assume office, they will always operate as if they are above the law,” he said.