Wale Ogunnade, convener, Voters Awareness Initiative, on Thursday urged Nigerians to be whistle-blowers in electoral matters by exposing buying of Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, in their communities before and during the general elections.
Mr Ogunnade told newsmen in Lagos while reacting to the discovery by the Independent National Electoral Commission of a new method of vote buying being devised to undermine the voting process.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, had said in Abuja on Monday that the commission received credible information that some partisan actors were going round buying up PVCs from voters or financially inducing them to collect the Voter Identification Numbers, VINs of their PVCs.
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He, however, assured Nigerians that the commission was aware of the new tricks, which were futile efforts, promising that the electoral body would work with security agencies to deal with violators of electoral laws.
Mr Ogunnade, in his reaction, said that all Nigerians could contribute to the success of the general election by also exposing and reporting occurrence of PVC buying or other methods of buying votes within their communities.
“I urge Nigerians to be on the lookout. When you see vote buying or PVC buying happening within your area or if someone approaches you to buy your PVC or induces you with money, you should report.
”You should be whistle-blowers by reporting such occurrence to the police or nearest INEC office, so that the culprits can be arrested and used as scapegoats to serve as deterrent to others.
”It is good that INEC is discovering these tactics early enough. We need awareness campaigns to educate Nigerians on the role they can play to make us have successful and credible elections,” he said.
Mr Ogunnade urged INEC to involve citizens across the country in the fight against PVC and vote buying ahead of the general elections.
He also advised the electoral body to engage stakeholders such as the media, civil societies and religious organisations to organise a massive awareness campaign to educate the citizens on the dangers of PVC and vote buying and how they can report such occurrence.
”There is a need to start educating Nigerians before the elections on the dangers of PVC and vote buying and the criminal implications, because it is now a criminal offence to buy or to sell votes or PVCs.
”We need to start telling them that if arrested, there are penalties.
”We also need to educate them on the moral implications of vote buying, as they are mortgaging their future by indulging in such acts.
”I think that the more people are aware of these implications, the more the fear to participate in such acts, and the more it will help deter vote buying before and during the general elections, ” he said.
With the tempo of campaigns increasing in recent weeks, Ogunnade advised politicians to keep within the bounds of responsible conduct and woo voters based on issues.