#OndoDecides2020: Election compromised freedom of choice

#OndoDecides2020: Election compromised freedom of choice

Monday, October 12, 2020 7:51 am

File: INEC staff preparing for smooth take off of election

By Jethro Ibileke

The election monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has said that the just concluded Ondo state governorship election was marked by practices that undermined political legitimacy and compromised freedom of choice.

The group stated this on Sunday while briefing journalists on its findings during the conduct of the election and its result verification exercise.

It noted that the election was characterized by massive vote-buying by political actors.

“Nigerian elections are signposted with practices that compromise the freedom of choice and undermine political legitimacy.

“Yiaga Africa notes with great concern the menace of vote-buying and the impunity exhibited by major political actors in procuring votes with huge amounts of cash during the Ondo governorship election.

“Across several polling units, the secrecy of the ballot was severely compromised despite attempts by polling officials to prevent voters and party agents from showing how ballot papers were marked.

“On election day, votes traded between N1000 and N7,000 at the polling unit,” it said.

Yiaga Africa noted that “the massive vote buying employed by political actors in the election made it difficult for voters to freely cast their ballots in the polling units where they occurred.

“It is disappointing that elections are largely defined by the highest bidder and spender.”

It however urged INEC to undertake reforms to protect the secrecy of the ballot, adding that “it is important to note that vote-buying is a governance challenge that diminishes human dignity and questions the legitimacy of electoral outcomes.

“Addressing this menace requires a multi-pronged approach that fosters improved public governance, abolishes do-or-die politics and strengthens mechanisms of accountability.”

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