Impact of Vote Buying, former SDP Candidate, Wisdom Ikuli recounts Experience
The 2019 general elections may have come and gone but its outcome has been a subject of debate in several quarters. Various key players in the electoral processes bear different tales to tell. Some tales are positive, some are full of regrets and disappointments while others are unconcerned on how the pendulum went swung.
One of such key players in the electoral process are the candidates who vie for different elective positions from councillorship to the highest office in the land – the Presidency. The electorates vote for any of the candidates of their choice either to the legislative arm or preside over the executive arm of governments irrespective of their political party.
However, in Nigeria, it has been revealed that most electorates are sometimes induced. The inducement of a voter comes either financially or by material gifts from candidates with money bags. This act is now known as vote buying. The negative impact is better felt by electorates but leaves the candidates especially the youths worried.
Comrade Wisdom Ikuli is a former candidate of Social Democratic Party, who contested for the Ogbia Constituency III seat in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly in the recent election. In any election, the candidate either wins or lose to an opponent based on the choice of the electorates. While losing an election comes with a mixed feeling of disappointment and rejection from the people, Comrade Ikuli, says ‘I am happy, I don’t have any moment of regret for contesting that election’.
His response to the outcome of the elections is unlike a typical Nigerian politician, who is desperate and ready to seek legal redress in an election tribunal.
However, Comrade Ikuli thinks otherwise when he stated that he never regretted the outcome of the elections but blames it on the electorate saying that he wants to serve and not to amass wealth.
‘I didn’t bother to challenge the outcome in court because I felt whether ‘good or bad, right or wrong’, it is the decision of the people. They sold their mandate and today, a lot of them are calling me stating their regret but I am living fine,’ youthful candidate boosted.
He said; ‘You know, it is money politics. For you to win an assembly seat especially where I come from, Ogbia constituency 3, you must have a minimum of N50 million, it is buying that position. You know that the salary of an assemblyman cumulatively for four years may not be up to N50 million. The candidate buy the position from the electorates.
‘When you elect the wrong representative, what will happen, he or she will go there to represent himself alone and not the people. So when somebody spend N50 million, most time they borrowed those monies with interest and by the time they go into the House of Assembly, do you expect them to do anything or oppose any anti-people policy of government?’
Ikuli agrees that vote buying exist but believes that the electorates pays dearly for it.
According to, it is the electorates that suffers when the elected officers look for opportunity to pay up some of the loans they took to fund the elections.
‘What he or she will be doing, is to see how to support any policy of government, so that the executive arm government can give them money to cover up all the debts they are owing. You find a situation where they will use the major part of the four years to pay debts, after paying the debt, they will find ways to recoup for their take home or for another election.’
The former SDP candidate highlighted some of the implications of vote buying, ‘As a former candidate, we have never doubted that people sell their votes especially when the people are not conscious of the negative implication of selling their votes.
‘When you sell you votes for N6,000 and N3,000; you have sold your conscience, mortgaged your conscience, your voice, your freedom, your integrity and right to talk and protest for an amount that will last for few days but can cause a life time damage’.
‘When it happens this way, it is the masses that suffer, no development and nothing happens. As an electorate, you don’t have right to question such person because ready you have sold your right for a pot of pottage.’
Sharing some of the lessons from the elections, he said ‘It was a very memorable experience. I am sure the experience I got within that period will help me in future elections. I can tell you, the election I contested have turned a lot of things around positively. I am happy, I don’t have any moment of regret for contesting that election.’
Comrade Ikuli encourage young aspirant to remain focus in the midst of betrayals adding that they should be consistent and endeavour to build their capacity to be independent minded in order to win any election.
‘I encourage young aspirants to remain focus in the midst of betrayals. For me, even my family members particularly my half brothers and sisters, went for those who have money.
‘For you to come for an election, first, you must build yourself. When you build yourself and know what you are doing, you know that nobody can intimidate you. Build your capacity, so that when you are negotiating with people that want to support, you have something to offer.’
‘When people look at you and you don’t have anything to offer, how do you expect to win the election? Or get an appointment? You must be independent-minded; not somebody people will push around. Today, nobody can say they gave me a kobo after the elections’.
Recalled how he secured the SDP’s ticket after his former party, the All Progressive Congress, APC denied him but described his decision as one of the best he has ever taken.
According to him, ‘I can tell you that my decision to contest for that House of Assembly position, is one of the best decision I have taken so far in my life. You know that I have been a member of the APC and I actually expected to secure the APC’s ticket for the elections. When things did not work out that way, I felt it was important for me to go on political sabbatical. So, I went on political sabbatical to Social Democratic Party, SDP to see how things’, he said.
Securing the ticket of SDP was a hurdle he crossed easily but couldn’t secure the mandate of the people to represent them in the legislative chambers as result of vote buying in our electoral system. While many youths are clamouring for inclusion and participation, voters’ inducement is widening gap.
Since the beginning of the fourth republic, youths have lamented over the level of youth inclusion in the political space. Several medium were explored to bridge this gap. One notable effort towards actualizing this goal was the aggressive advocacy campaign of a youth group known as YIAGA Africa spearheaded by one Samson Otodo.
YIAGA Africa crafted and sponsored the Not-to-Young-Run Bill to the National Assembly with support from International organizations and donor agencies. The advocacy paid off when the bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari. The signing of law was greeted with anxiety and a sense of fulfillment by the group and the youth population in the country.
The battle to sign the law over, the youth population in the country were ready to take over the political sphere since legal and constitutional impediment against their aspiration was laid to rest, then, came the 2019 general, an opportunity to test the efficacy of the law. Beyond the political exclusion is another battle ahead of the youthful candidates such as Comrade Wisdom Ikuli of SDP didn’t pay attention.
One significant feature of elections in Nigeria since 1999 was the inducement of electorates, which was better defined as the 2019 elections gradually gather momentum as ‘Vote buying’. After the battle of political inclusion comes another hurdle – political inducement. One was constitutional, the other financially. Yes, it is not surprising that it existed and the major political parties are guilty at charge in the peoples’ court.
Therefore, it is time to fight the scourge of vote buying which was clearly evidence in the just concluded elections across the country. If young people must be included in the political process, now is the time to carrying out massive electorate enlightenment on the damages of this ugly menace.