26% of Nigerian electorate willing to sell votes in 2023 election – Report

A new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed that 26 percent of registered voters would be willing to sell their votes for monetary or material gains during the 2023 general election.

According to the report titled “Vote-Buying Poll’ released on Monday, 26 percent translates to about 7.3 million votes which is enough to boost any candidate’s chances of winning.

Overall, the poll revealed that 30 percent of respondents who have registered to vote during the election claimed that they would accept gifts or favours from politicians and their cronies. On the type of gifts or favours that the electorate is likely to accept from the political class and their associates, the report revealed that 45 percent of respondents would accept money, 21 percent would accept gifts, ten percent would accept promised jobs or contracts, nine percent would accept food items and two percent would accept clothes.

According to the poll, 37 percent of adult Nigerians interviewed disclosed that the desperation of the political class to win is the major cause of vote-buying during elections.

The results of the survey also showed a lack of understanding on the part of the electorate about the phenomenon of vote-buying as a critical impediment to genuine democratic consolidation, warning that voters who allow unscrupulous politicians to use them to get into office are throwing away their fundamental rights to democratic accountability.

“This gap highlights the need for a campaign against vote-buying and more voter education leading up to the 2023 polls. Given the above, one thing is clear, vote-buying remains a tool in the hands of the political class. Vote-buying thrives in Nigeria because politics is an investment, the premium on state power is inestimably high, the quest for power by the elite is so desperate, and poverty and illiteracy make people susceptible to material inducement.

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“If not checked, the obvious outcome of vote-buying is that it will gradually become the bane of democracy in Nigeria, and for a democratic nation, the electorate will slowly lose their voting power by exchanging votes for money and other material gains. This becomes a big distortion and hindrance to the concept of free and fair elections, which ensure that the electorate elect the leaders they deem fit for office,” the report read.

To combat the threat of vote-buying, the report urged relevant stakeholders to demand that the privileges associated with political offices be significantly reduced, the abusive influence of money in the selection of candidates in political parties be controlled, the electorate be educated on why they should reject all forms of partisan inducements, and that the electoral commission improves the current measures on ballot secrecy.

On the degree of certainty to vote in the upcoming election, the poll found that 92 percent of adult Nigerians nationwide who are registered to vote in the 2023 general election are certain that they will vote; but only 83 percent of the respondents are certain that they will participate in the upcoming elections.

The opinion poll was conducted in the week commencing October 31, 2022. It involved telephone interviews of a proportionate nationwide sample of 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical regions and 36 states and the FCT of the country.