Mr Omo-Agege emphasised that sustained campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments were needed to curb vote-buying.
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege says vote-buying has become the trigger for embezzlement of public funds by politicians.
Mr Omo-Agege, represented by his Chief of Staff, Otive lgbuzor, at an event tagged the “Policy Dialogue on Addressing Vote-Trading in Nigeria: Lessons from Comparative Experiences”, by the Electoral Forum in Abuja, said vote-buying had brought negative consequences to the country’s electoral system.
“Since vote-trading mostly relies on huge financial outlay, it provides a ready excuse for fraud and embezzlement and can lead to widespread corruption in the public sector,” he said.
Mr Omo-Agege stressed that vote-trading was primarily driven by material context and immediate circumstances such as economic hardship, fear of intimidation or violence.
“Trading on votes harms democracy and also discourages and dissuades honest people from entering politics because electoral success becomes associated with dishonest and unethical practices,” he stated.
He emphasised that sustained campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments were needed to curb vote-buying.
According to him, punitive sanctions are more likely to be successful than moralistic pleas.
“Political actors who buy votes should face stringent consequences,” he said.
Also, Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said the commission was using lessons from recent elections to understudy vote-buying and engage relevant stakeholders to tackle it.
Mr Yakubu, represented by INEC’s national commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the commission would intensify its voter education and sensitise the people more about the dangers of vote buying.
“Yes, we all know vote buying is linked to poverty, but I also think that as soon as people begin to have faith in the electoral process, they will see the power that they have over those who are running for politics.
“I believe that soon the story will change, and the power will return to the people,” he said.
Adebayo Olukoshi, chairman of the Electoral Forum, said that money in politics was a global challenge, especially insidious and criminal money, which was very difficult to trace.
“Therefore, other democracies around the world have moved away from elimination to the regulation of the use of money in politics to ensure that it does not corrupt the integrity of the electoral process.
In his submission, the chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters, Aisha Dukku, said vote-buying remained a major threat to credible, free and fair elections.
Mr Dukku stressed that establishing an electoral offences commission was needed to sanitise electoral process as done in other best practices.