Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday he is okay with money politics and vote buying but against election violence.
“If contestants have too much money and they decide to spray, so be it. But what I insist is, nobody should go and raise a counter force to the government, arm heavily-drugged thugs to go and humiliate people,” Mr. Buhari said when Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State led his Deputy, Philip Shuaibu, and other party supporters to the State House “on a thank-you-visit.”
Governor Godwin Obaseki defeated Buhari’s candidate in a governorship election last week.
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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.
This practice is often used to incentivise or persuade voters to turn out to elections and vote in a particular way. Despite the fact that this practice is illegal in many countries such as the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Kenya, Brazil and Nigeria, its prevalence remains worldwide.
In Nigeria, politicians often distribute money and food to voters before or on election day, fueling more violence and corruption. The godfathers often expect to be repaid after election victory.
While Mr. Buhari said he is okay with “spraying money” during elections, he insists that election violence is bad and he would protect all Nigerians against it.
“I thank you for bringing your deputy and supporters to come and see me after beating my party. I am supposed to preside over all Nigerian interests whether I like it or not, but my single desire is to make sure that innocent people don’t suffer. That message I got across to the Inspector General of Police, that elections must be free and fair,” the President told his guests, according to a presidential statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.
According to the President, “I want Nigerians to appreciate that I respect them as Nigerians and that I am bound by the oath I have taken, that their security is in the hands of God and in the hands of the government, which I am leading.”
“We have lost states across the country. Now I do not like to escape the responsibility, seeing as the leader of the country, I am also the leader of my party, that I am not leading the party very well.
“I am trying to make sure that the party is built on a civilised basis, rule of law and respect for human rights and human beings, right from polling units to local governments, to states up to Abuja and that’s what I have been insisting as my contribution to the National Working Committee and executive of the party. I know we are a developing country, a developing economy and trying to develop our political culture. I want the development of political culture to be based on integrity and accountability. Let people work very hard and earn what they are looking for through their hard work and through fair competition,” the President said.
He said he was congratulating the Edo governor “reluctantly” because he defeated the candidate of his party, the All Progressives Congress.
In his remarks, Governor Obaseki thanked the President for ensuring that fair play reigned during the election which saw him victorious, the presidency said.
“You would recall a couple of weeks before the election, I came to see you and you assured me that we were going to have a free, peaceful and credible election. That is what we had during the election of 19th September and the whole world has acclaimed that Edo election was perhaps one of the best conducted in recent times in Nigeria. This could not have been possible without your insistence that the right things be done, and for that, we want to say thank you very much.”
He also thanked the President for his congratulatory message, assuring him that the message “has been internalised, that it is God that made this election possible, therefore I should be humble about the election and also magnanimous in victory.”
He pledged his unalloyed loyalty and support and that of the people of Edo State to the President and the federal government, according to a presidential statement by spokesman Femi Adesina.