The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) through its Election Analysis Centre (EAC) has said politicians are devising new and creative strategies to engage in vote trading.
The CDD-EAC said this at its pre-election press conference on Friday in Abuja.
The report was jointly presented by the Chair, CDD-EAC, Prof. Adele Jinadu; Executive Director, CDD, Idayat Hassan; member CDD-EAC, Mrs Ladi Bala; member EAC, Prof. Victor Adetula, and Executive Director, CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani.
They said though vote trading was less prominent during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, politicians devised new modes of vote buying.
“Vote trading was less prominent during the presidential election but more creative, Food and material goods replaced cash in many instances, a practice that will be a feature of closely contested polls in Sokoto, Delta, Rivers and Zamfara states.
“However, this is in tandem with presidential races where vote trading is often limited when compared to governorship races which has seen vote trading feature prominently in successive elections. We encourage citizens to make their decision based on choice and not in exchange for goods or cash,” they said.
They also urged investigating authorities to act against those engaged in vote trading to bring sanity in the nation’s election processes.
The organisation also tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to learn key lessons from its conduct of the presidential poll of February 25 to improve the conduct of the state elections.
Prof. Adele Jinadu and CDD Director, Idayat Hassan said given that the polls have been delayed by a week, to give INEC time to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices, the commission now has sufficient time conduct better elections, which will be devoid of the earlier noticed flaws.
CDD expressed hope that the extra time INEC has had will translate into improved opening of polling units across the country, with those polling units fully equipped with the necessary voting materials to avoid scenarios observed in the presidential polls where voting continued well beyond the scheduled closing time.
They stressed that the functionality of the BVAS machines and improved use of the INEC results viewing platform (IReV) will also be critical for the credibility of the polls.
“Improved functionality will contribute to greater election results transparency, but this can still be undermined by compromised INEC officials and ad-hoc staff. The suspension of the RECs for Abia and Sokoto states for ’endangering the electoral process’ is welcome but points to the prevailing challenge that INEC officials and ad-hoc staff can be subject to the whims and caprices of state governments in ways that negatively impact voter confidence and the election’s credibility,” they said.