If someone spends a lot of money to manipulate the outcome of a contract bid to build a bridge and he is awarded the contract, do you think that person will use standardize materials to build the bridge or he will try to cut corners so he can recoup money he spend on bribing his way to the contract? Not to mention he will want to also make a huge profit from the contract. At the end, it’s those who use the bridge that would suffer the consequence of the contractor’s action.
This analogy describes election in Nigeria. The politician manipulate the outcome of the election by bribing electoral officers, ballot box snatching and stuffing, cause conflict between party agent and electoral officers, illegal printing and usage of voters’ card, falsification of result and tempering with voters’ register, even vote buying consist of what is called Election Rigging.
Causes of election rigging in Nigeria
The number one causee of election rigging in Nigeria is greed. If apolitician, civil servant or an ordinary citizen is greedy to the extent that he or she wants to amass all the wealth, power, accolade and respect a position can give, then expect that person to go to any length to get that power.
Another cause of rigging is lack of integrity. Most times I wonder how many individuals or politicians in Nigeria truly have integrity. Integrity is one of the most important characters any politician or individual should have, especially if you are in a position of decision. We all know how our politicians hop from one political party to another for whatever reason, but how many times have we heard about a politician in US or UK leave his party to join another party for whatever reason except maybe in the case of Donald Trump who was once a member of the Democrats before jpining the Republicans. I used to think a politician joins a party because of the party’s manifesto is in line with his ideology and no matter what, he would stick with that party till the end. The sad truth is that many Nigerian politicians do not even know their party’s manifesto.
Other reasons that cause election rigging is the weaknes of the judicial system, indiscipline and corruption amongst security operatives, poverty and uncertainty about the feature.
The aftermat of rigging leave far reaching effects on Nigerians including:
Loss of credibility: Rigging of elections can cause the winning party to lose credibility. The voters will not see them as legitimate leaders because they would feel their mandate was stolen.
It can cause civil unrest and destabilize the political system. This can happen if the opposition party refuses to accept the outcome of the election because of rigging. Such as what happened in the April 2011 presidential election where 800 people died in some northern states of Nigeria.
It can have negative effects on the economy amount to a waste of tax payers’ money. When an election is cancelled due to rigging, businesses that would have operated on the Election Day have lost millions of naira for no reason; even the common man that depends on daily paid jobs, would have lost daily income to sustain his family for that day. Also tax payers’ money which would have been used for to develop the nation will be used for a re-run of the cancelled election.
How to Prevent Election Rigging in Nigeria
Prof. Soyinka said in an interview with Daily Post during his 60th birthday that “If we can solve issues of corruption, we will also be addressing cases of election rigging. This is because there is a direct nexus between that level of corruption and the degradation of democratic process that we have witnessed in the country.”
If we can successfully nab corruption we can put an end to election rigging in Nigeria. However, the following need to be put in place to ensure free and fair election.
Adequate technology: Using technology has enable PVC to be verified by card readers before being used to vote. The two-step authentication eliminates the dual problems of impersonation and multiple voting—previously rampant rigging tactics.
Strict penalties for those caught in election rigging. If those that perpetrate election fraud are prosecuted regardless of official position, those planning election rigging will think twice before going into it.
Electoral reforms. In other to block existing loopholes in the present electoral system, government need to carry out electoral reforms that will make it difficult for rigging to take place, such as ensuring transparency in the electoral process.
Ultimately, every Nigerian has a role to play to end election rigging in Nigeria. The political thugs who are usualy utilized by politicians to rig elections need to be made to understand that they are destroying their future for as little as N5,000. If we all work together to resist offers of crooked politicians, we will be on our way to electing the right leaders who will move Nigeria to her rightful place of greatness.