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VOTE BUYING; THE INPENDING SHAM IN NIGERIAN POLITICS : ARC. NYA-ETOK



*A POST 2019 ELECTION PRESS RELEASE BY ARC. EZEKIEL NYA-ETOK, YDP GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE IN AKWA IBOM STATE.*
Against the background of the recently conducted governorship election in Akwa Ibom state of which I was a contestant on the platform of the Young Democratic Party (YDP), I feel impelled to issue this post-election press release in order to convey my unreserved gratitude to the people of Akwa Ibom state on one hand, and on the other hand, express my deepest concerns on important issues of state and national discourse while making some recommendations to INEC for the purpose of improving Nigeria’s electoral system.
Firstly, I appreciate in no small measure the overwhelming acceptance and commitment of the beloved people of Akwa Ibom state which translated in the support I received during the recently conducted election as I sought to occupy the governorship seat of Akwa Ibom state.  The collective efforts of the good people of Akwa Ibom state led to the achievement of the predetermined objective of my governorship campaign being the introduction of Social Governance in our national political space and the registration of same in Nigeria’s political lexicon. I therefore commend the patriotic disposition of our people.

The 2019 Governorship Election in Akwa Ibom and the Problem of Vote Buying
I wish to bring to the fore a fundamental aberration I observed during the election, which I consider antithetical to democratic development and governance in Nigeria. It is the issue of VOTE BUYING.
A critical evaluation of the recently conducted elections reveal a situation in which the abysmal practice of vote buying was very prominent. Unscrupulous politicians and their cronies compromised the sanctity of the ballot through the practice of money politics, which led to the monetization of votes and commercialization of the elections. The ugly trend of vote buying is a threat to our nascent democracy. Thus, I hereby call on the Nigerian government and all well-meaning Nigerians to join in the declaration of a state of emergency on political electioneering in Nigeria. There is an urgent need for the overhaul our democratic institutions and processes and to also improve the legal framework of our electoral laws in conformity with international best standards and practices.

The Social Governance Ideology
In view of the lack of ideological direction in political and governmental affairs and the seemingly deplorable socio-economic conditions that have become the trademark of today’s society, it has become very pertinent for me to conceptualize a governance ideology tailored at addressing the anomalies in the workings of government and in the political system. I believe very strongly that a well-conceived ideological construct as social governance will not only recalibrate our political system positively, but also will change the narrative of government so much so that the welfare and security of the people will be the primary purpose of government as provided in Chapter 2, Section 14, Sub-section 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).
Borne out of careful consideration and the passion for improvement of citizens’ welfare and standard of living, particularly the most vulnerable, I hereby propose the Social Governance ideology for adoption by governments at local, state, national and international levels. The adoption and implementation of Social Governance will mark a watershed in our political evolution as a country as well as change the dynamics of governance as government and public office holders will be made to function effectively while the citizens enjoy the dividend of democracy.
If Abraham Lincoln’s definition of Democracy as “government of the people, by the people and for the people” is anything to go by, then a people-oriented ideology - Social Governance -  should be accepted and made to constitute the ideological foundation of government and political leadership.
I, Arc. Ezekiel Nya-Etok, have resolved to pioneer ideological politics in Nigeria. Just as the imprint of the logo of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) attests to the authenticity and safety of a product, I hope for a time in which candidates seeking elective positions in Nigeria will have their campaign bill boards emblematized with the logo of Social Governance as a prove of acceptance and believe in the ideals of the Social Governance ideology.
I remain committed to the betterment of our state and country at large, and I urge all citizens with good intentions to join me in creating the Akwa Ibom and Nigeria of our dreams.
Recommendations to INEC for Result-Oriented Elections
Any meaningful attempt to correct the ills in Nigeria’s electoral system must be guided by the urgency to restructure the political system for effective service delivery. I therefore advance the following recommendations to INEC:
Inter-Party Primaries: I recommend that INEC plays a supervisory role in inter-party primaries as it will strengthen internal democracy and improve the leadership recruitment process to the betterment of the political system.
Party Membership: INEC should beam its searchlight on political parties by establishing the parameters and modalities of their formation and operation. This should begin with the adoption of biometric registration for membership of political parties. Also, the ownership of Permanent Voters Card should be a major criterion for belonging to any political party. In addition, the process for selection of delegates of political parties should be democratic and transparent.

 Debate: Pre-election debate should be made compulsory for all contestants in different political parties. In order to determine the composition of candidates as debate participants, INEC should conduct a poll beforehand to ascertain the competence, qualification, acceptability and ideological basis of candidates, after which a careful selection will be made as regards the candidates most suitable for the debate. The INEC poll should be done on a secured INEC portal so as to avoid any form of cyber breach. The pre-election debate will also set the tone for issue-based campaign.

INEC should place institutional embargo on multiple rallies prior to elections because the conduct of numerous political rallies is usually a distraction to the incumbent government much as it also trivializes the electoral process.  INEC should reduce the number of political rallies to a maximum of two (2) being Opening and Closing rallies.  Retail campaign which include town hall meetings and door to door campaign should be undertaken by candidates to compliment the limited number of rallies prescribed.





Recommendations

Being candidates of a party at the presidental and gubernatorial levels have become tools for negotiation. In Akwa Ibom State, for instance, out of 45 gubernatorial candidates, only four were eventually on the ballot. INEC may therefore wish to limit the number of candidates on the ballot by;

1. Insisting that all parties have their voting members as registered voters with PVCs.

2. A year to elections, such members would vote for the top 20 to be on the ballot.

3. A month to the beginning of primaries, this registered members would also vote for the top 10 of these parties to be on compulsory presidental and gubernatorial debates.

Finally, INEC should limit party rallies to two (opening and closing rallies, or as maybe preferred by the parties).

All other campaigns might either be by town hall meetings or door-to-door campaigns. This would compel parties to put forward:

1. Sellable' candidates.

2. Evolved ideologies or campaigns based on specific party ideologies and manifestoes. The specific reason is that rallies are often jamborees while town hall meetings make for elaborate scrutiny of the programmes of the candidates.




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