Yiaga Africa has urged the Citizens of Ekiti State not to devalue their citizenship to mere tokenism in form of gift items and money from politicians ahead of the June 18th Governorship elections in Ekiti State. The quality of citizenship is being debased by the exchange of votes for money or gift items, thus citizens must understand the quality of being a citizen, Yiaga Africa Board member Ezenwa Nwagwu said.
The Organisation’s Board member, Ezenwa Nwagwu made the call during its Citizens engagement radio program on Fresh FM, Ekiti, saying poverty is never a justification to sell your votes. He said, the citizens of Ekiti must desist from transactional relationships from politicians saying there is need to stop commodification of votes.
According to him, “there is a wider context to which you look at voter inducement but there is a part that is criminal”. He cites examples of how politicians ask residents to go to petrol stations to receive free fuel saying it is an example of voter inducement. However, it is difficult or impossible to arrest such people even when you know a voter has been induced through distribution of fuel which he said is unique to Ekiti people. This he said was due to the nature of the electoral law, saying it’s only criminal if voters are induced on election day.
He said, although, inviting voters for feasting before elections is not criminal, there are ethical issues involved in that but however, voter inducement delegitimizes the winner of the election. “When you commodify the relationship between the leaders and the led, then that legitimacy is cut-off”, he added
Ezenwa revealed that the new catch by politicians is the door to door campaign by political parties which he describes as a euphemism for inducing voters behind closed doors saying politicians are targeting the minds of the voters with pecuniary engagements.
He said, “can ordinary gift or food items replace the quality staffing of primary and secondary schools within the state”? can we have a situation where the quality of life can translate to the kind of resources available to the people”, he quizzes
He said citizens should understand that politicians who induce voters do not have plans for good governance saying citizens have to make a choice between receiving one day of gratification and being deprived of four years of good governance. “When we trade today for a brighter future, we bear the consequences or reward of it”, he added.
He called on Civil Society Organisations, Leadership of market women associations, professional and trade unions to rise up to engage from the standpoint of citizens’ demand. He said the narrative of transactional relationships can be broken by forcing a new narrative by organizing citizens’ townhalls to engage candidates before and after elections.