Following the dangerous trend of the financial induced approach used by politicians during elections, a non-profit making organization, One Love Foundation, OLF, Saturday, called on security agencies to criminalize vote-buying and selling ahead of the Edo State Governorship Election.
This was stated by the Founder, OLF, Chief Patrick Eholor while speaking on the strategic position and role security agents are expected to play to make the electoral process smooth and credible.
Eholor: “The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and security agencies should discourage vote-buying and selling by tagging it a criminal offense.
“Security agencies should be neutral and non-partisan and avoid being compromised before, during, and after the Election Day. I am stating this because of past experiences, and I am charging them to be very professional as they are known to be.
“Their integrity is now being tested and the result on their conduct and performance will be given during and after the election. We believe and hope that they would not perform below average.”
He further stated that security agents should ensure there is no breach of the electoral process and all forms of hooliganism and intimidation of voters should be addressed.
He, therefore, charged young people to think out of the box and not on sentiments that politicians use to blindfold gullible youths with drugs and few Naira notes at their own detriment as most of them at the end of the day are abandoned and criminalized.
“Shun electoral violence and go out there and cast your vote for someone who will turn your lives around for the better because what is not worth living for is not worth dying for”, he stated.
Meanwhile, according to Eholor, the electorates in Edo State are well informed, enlightened, and exposed, which no political party and their candidate can easily prey on or make them gullible with false promises that cannot be fulfilled.
The social crusader further stated that the power to make a change in the lives of the people is with the people and not with the politicians or candidates and so they should be very careful not to full into the wrong hands before, during, and after the election.
He also added that the constitutional power and right electorates have to choose their leader through the ballot box, and that back up by the constitution should make electorates in Edo State to critically assess and make their right choice on a candidate who will meet their health, education, employment, electricity, security, and other needs, and not based on sentiments or being cajoled to choose who they know cannot meet their needs.
“The electorates are getting wiser by the day. It is their right to assess the candidates to see what they have in place for them before voting as everyone has a reason to vote.
“Like some persons who cannot pay school fees will be interested in a government that can provide an opportunity for their children to go to school. Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory provided free education.
“There are also those that have an interest in farming, so they look forward to a government that can be responsible enough to provide soft loans for them either to farm or trade. Those that have health challenges will pray to have a government that will provide good and accessible healthcare”, he said.
He also asserted and expressed optimism that INEC will conduct a credible election, particularly on preparedness, which he said there is no excuse of the period before the election was a shortage of electoral materials and the problem of logistics because it gave the date and guidelines at a record time that makes them be fully ready to conduct an acceptable election in the history of Edo State and Nigeria as a whole.
He also cautioned INEC on reliable biometrics and proper display of voter register for voters to confirm their names and polling units accurately in order to avoid disenfranchisement.
“Am sure INEC has their template already and they still have two weeks and some days to go. They should be responsible enough to say that there was no shortage of materials because if they do that, they will be depriving some persons of exercising their Civic rights.
“Let us give INEC some credit because they have improved. No matter how bad, it has not been easy but one day we will get there because this demonstration of madness is not us. We have our own way of doing things, since we want to live on borrowed cultures and want to be civilized it takes time to master civilization”, he added.
However, he argued that Nigeria after 21 years of returning to democracy should be of age to monitor its own elections and not to invite foreign observes to give reports of its own elections.
He also pointed out that there has never been an election conducted in the United States of America, USA, United Kingdom, UK, Germany, and others.
“I think it’s a shame for Nigeria after 21 years of democracy to rely on foreign umpires as election observers. It’s uncalled for. We can observe our elections ourselves.
“I do not recall the last time Europeans and Americans called African countries particularly Nigeria to monitor elections in their countries. The election is coming up in America in October, am sure Donald Trump or Joe Biden will not be inviting Nigeria as an umpire”, he stated.