1.1 Background of the Study
With over 180 million people, Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa (Nwankwo, 2017) and since the return of democratic rule in 1999 after decades of military dictatorships (Nwankwo, Okafor & Asuoha, 2017) one would expect that the primary features of electoral democracy would have at least germinated if not fully developed. At the moment, Nigerian democracy still exhibits features of authoritarianism. The significant difference is that while the conduct of elections might signify democracy, elections must be “free and fair” to pass as democratic. The principles of democratic self-government are irreconcilable with electoral shambles. Therefore, compliance with democratic norms in the contest signifies electoral democracy whereas the reverse is the case for electoral authoritarianism.
Elections free from malpractice are therefore the springboard of democracy (Nwankwo et al., 2017), they serve as the conduit for peaceful change of government and boost and grant political legitimacy to the government (Ojo, 2008). Also, they genuinely involve the citizenry in political decision-making which engenders accountability and answerability. In most African countries, however, elections are anything but free and fair with violence and vote-buying being significant characteristics (Bratton, 2008). Ideally, in a democracy, seeking electoral support is expected to be an open debate of reasoned arguments about why specific political candidates are most competent for election to office (Heywood, 2007). Candidates are supposed to compete for popular support by presenting programs of public good to stake out competitive positions by persuading the median voter at the centre of the political spectrum (Nichter, 2008). Electorates then elect the candidate whose policy and programmes most directly reflect their own set of preference.
However, in Nigeria as much as many African countries, elections are an offshoot of the vicious brawls over access to the resources controlled by the state, which are the significant treasure in Nigerian society.
Due to the juicy nature of Nigerian elective positions, elections are very competitive, and politicians thus deploy various measures to win including violence, intimidation, manipulation and rigging (Cletus, 2017).
Where these strategies are not convincing enough to win, they deploy ‘carrots’–voter buying. Vote buying is commonly conceived as offering rewards especially money in exchange for vote choices (e.g., Lehoucq 2007; Ojo, 2008; Kramon, 2016) but it is sometimes mistaken for turnout buying which refers to offering incentives for people to turnout on election day (Nichter, 2008).
The focus of this research is not on turnout buying but on poverty and vote buying (the paying of voters to vote for a party or candidate). However, the aim is to comment on the manifestation of vote buying regarding voter turnout and voter choices in the 2019 general election in Nigeria and its implications. The research notes that vote-buying might not have significantly influenced voter turnout, but it changed voters’ choices as the two major political parties in the election resorted to a massive monetary inducement for electoral support at the poll. Even though the election was secret balloting, the advent of “see and buy” shows that politicians are stepping up their games to manipulate elections. The research thus argues for electoral institutional reform and strengthening the enforcement of the law.
It is argued that Nigerians aspire for free and fair election (Ojo, 2008), while this could be the case, it is not evident if they are immune to vote-buying–an essential element of electoral shambles in the country.
1.2 Statement of Problem
There are growing fears that rising cases of vote buying and selling may not only undermine the electorate’s right of choice, but ultimately imperil its democracy (Iyare, 2018). In buying out one another, balances are unfairly altered; often so much that rivals might opt for other means to settle scores. While Nigerians are beginning to celebrate relative decline of godfatherism, gradual disappearance of ballot box snatching and high record of brigandage on election day in the nation’s politics, the influence of huge amounts of money in deciding who wins an election is fast replacing anti-poll styles of brigandage. Vote buying has paved way for the money bags in the country to dominate and occupy key elective and appointive political positions in the country. Elections in Nigeria in recent years have raised intriguing issues around monetisation of the electoral process by political parties and their candidates. The implication of this emerging political behaviour for democratic consolidation and development-oriented politics in the state has expectedly generated debates and drawn criticisms among analysts. Therefore this study is going to analyze the effect of vote buying on election credibility.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to explore the nature, extent and implications of poverty and vote buying on election credibility. Other specific objectives include:
a. To interrogate the factors that facilitate vote buying in Nigeria
b. To Examine how vote buying change voters choice of candidate.
c. To examine the role of the voters’ preferences in determining the winner and the payments to voters.
d. To suggest policy options for stakeholders against future elections.
1.4 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is centered on the analysis of poverty and vote selling in Nigeria election a study of 2019 general election.
1.5 Research Methodology
Doctrinal method and also empirical shall be mainly adopted in this research which will entail the consideration of statutes, textbooks of both foreign and local authors, journals, case laws conferences, materials form, collection of facts and data through questionnaires, internet and other relevant materials will be consulted.
1.6 Literature Review
Many Scholars such as (Davies, 2005, Walecki, 2006, Scaffer, 2005, Schedler, 2005, Ojo, 2006) have written on money politics and vote buying in Nigerian politics because of the devastating impact of the phenomenon on the body politics.
The Nigerian state often experiences governmental instability in the forms of bad policy options and implementation. The basic necessities of life such as electricity supply, water supply, employment and quality education are lacking in the Nigerian society.
Democracy which is adjudged to be the best form of government all over the world is also being constantly assaulted in Nigeria due to the phenomenon of money politics and vote buying. Although, Nigeria enthroned democratic governance in the fourth republic on May 29th, 1999, the dividends of democracy to the people are very scanty and far apart. This is because the concept and practice of democracy appears to be at variance in Nigeria. Actually money politics and vote buying have vitiated the good qualities of democracy in the country. In fact, the destructive power of money politics has been fingered as one of the factors that undermine good governance in Nigeria.
The role that money and vote buying play in Nigeria politics today have earned them a dominant position in the election of officers into position of authority where they can authoritatively decide who gets what, when and how. Money seems to have taken the center stage in the political process in most countries and in Nigerian politics, it is, sadly, now playing an increasing critical role to such an extent that the word, ‘money politics’ with a pejorative connotation, have crept into the country’s political lexicon”, (Davies: 2006:5). The problem with this situation is that the electoral process is often compromised resulting in elections not being free and fair.
It is pertinent to observe that it is not in any way being suggested that the use of money by political parties or any person or group of persons in politics has inherent corruptive influence. The truth is that money is needed for sundry services and logistics such as mobilization for political campaigns and rallies, printing of posters and manifestoes, production of party emblems and other symbols etc. The only worry, however, is the noticeable corrupting influence of money and vote-buying, and their negative impact on good governance in Nigeria.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
In carrying out this research many factors served as constraints:
1. The limitation of the research title as poverty and vote selling in Nigeria election.
2. Financial Limitation.
3. Inadequate Time: time factor constitutes the major limitation of this research study. It relates to the fact that the time for research work was short because it was combined with lectures, studies and examination.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Vote Buying: Vote buying occurs when a political party or candidate seeks to buy the vote of a voter in an upcoming election. Vote buying can take various forms such as a monetary exchange, as well as an exchange for necessary goods or services.
Electoral fraud: sometimes referred to as election fraud, election manipulation or vote rigging, is illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. What exactly constitutes electoral fraud varies from country to country.
Election: An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century.
Credibility: Credibility comprises the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message. Credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components
Godfatherism: A form of political corruption in which an influential member of a party assists another person in the climb to leadership.
Ballot Box: A ballot box is a temporarily sealed container, usually a square box though sometimes a tamper resistant bag, with a narrow slot in the top sufficient to accept a ballot paper in an election but which prevents anyone from accessing the votes cast until the close of the voting period.
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