‘E dibo, Ke Se Obe’: ‘Vote for cash’ as an emergent paradigm of electoral corruption in Nigeria
The democratisation process in Nigeria has been seriously hampered by endemic corruption. The blatant buying and selling of votes at polling booths during elections in Nigeria further dims the hope of democratic consolidation. Known and referred to comically in the Yoruba language as ‘E dibo, ke se obe’, literally interpreted as ‘vote and cook soup’, that is ‘vote for cash/cash for vote’, in apparent reference to the money that voters get if they vote in a particular direction; the phenomenon is fast emerging as the new face of commercialization of Nigeria’s electoral process. The decline of participatory democracy and fizzling of the euphoria that accompanied Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999 informed this conversation. To explain the details of this discourse, this chapter relied on the understanding of the relationship of poverty and political participation as provided for by the political economy approach. Guided by the class analysis of poverty, this chapter interpreted vote buying and selling, a current emblem of Nigeria’s democratization process, as a creation of the ruling class. Money has become a dominant factor in Nigeria’s electoral process and the masses are increasingly made to exchange their votes for money just as they buy and sell goods and services. If unchecked, it poses a risk of further engendering electoral corruption and the inevitable collapse of the democratization process. Thus, this chapter utilized secondary sources of data to interrogate the corruptive effect of direct vote buying/selling on elections in Nigeria with specific reference(s) to the Edo State and Ondo State Gubernatorial elections conducted in 2016, as the phenomenon gives cause for concern given the fact of the threat it poses. The chapter concludes with some recommendations on the way forward.
Keywords: Corruption, Vote Buying/Selling, Poverty, Elections, Democratisation
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