7 ways politicians 'rig' elections in Nigeria
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7 ways politicians ‘rig’ elections in Nigeria

Mojeed Oladipupo




Ahead of tomorrow’s governorship and the house of assemblies elections,  electorates are expected to troop out and exercise their franchise to elect those that will represent them for another four-year term.

Recall that there have been usual criticisms from candidates who lost their elections in the just concluded presidential and National Assembly elections. There have been accusations and counter-accusations of rigging among political parties as well.

Prominent among such candidates is Atiku Abubakar, the presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had alleged militarization of voters in the PDP strongholds while opposition party also expressed its displeasure at the large turn out of voters in the Northeast, which have been ravaged by the Boko Haram terrorists.

The PDP alleged other forms of malpractices like rigging and intimidation to mention a few. Interestingly, most of these allegations were raised even before the announcement of the final result.

As a result of the declared results which returned president Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office, Atiku has gone to the tribunals to contest the outcome, so does other candidates who were unsatisfied with the outcome of the poll.

In the case of Atiku, the former vice president demanded the release of election materials from the electoral commission; some of the prayers have been granted by the court.

Meanwhile, some election observers had published different reports on the poll with some stating that it was marred by violence.

For instance,  the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) said the presidential and National Assembly polls were marred by widespread irregularities such as logistics failure, misconduct and poor technical know-how of INEC’s ad-hoc staff and security lapses.

PoliticsNGR gives you seven ways politicians seek to ‘rig’ election in the country.

1. The militarization of opponent’s stronghold: Politicians use this strategy that ensures that polling units in their opponent’s area witnessed the presence of a high number of armed military personnel.

This is used to achieve voters apathy which some claimed occurred in some part of the southeast and south-south. This is to frighten the electorates in coming out for the candidates o0f their choice, especially if the candidate is an opposition to the ruling government.

This will eventually make them not to turn out to at the polling units to vote.

Also, issues like this which usually leads to clashes lead to cancellation of votes, making the stronghold of the opposition weaker with little votes.– which reduces his/her chances of winning.

2. Stopping INEC official from moving to polling units: Hinderances are created for the electoral officers by some supporters of the ‘powers-that-be’, which stops the officers from moving to the polling units. Political thugs are usually used in this instance to stop INEC from performing the responsibility.

As a result, the votes that would have come out of a particular ward or local government won’t count as it will be recorded zero votes.

3. Make sure election materials arrive late in your rival’s polling unit: If the politicians are not able to achieve number two, they resort to this. With peoples’ patience winning out after some hours at the polling units, they go home and cast no vote, reducing the chance of their chosen candidate from winning the poll.

Also, many voters on the queue will not be able to cast their votes once the time frame for voting elapses.

By the time the election materials arrive late at the opponent’s unit, his/her votes will be drastically reduced as a result of the delay. In the recent case, even though the commission extended the voting time in some areas till the night, there is a lack of information to the electorates who would have assumed the electoral officers won’t come. So, many voters ended up not voting, making many electorates to be disenfranchised.

Politicians who have most transport workers in the state on their payroll uses this means to reduce the crowd of their opponent at campaign ground, paying the drivers money for the whole day as possess their keys for the period.

As  INEC is not in charge of transport than the distribution of materials, the transport union is used in stopping them from moving to the polling units at the beck and call of the politicians

3. Threaten INEC officials: Another way some politicians use in Nigeria is to threaten INEC officials. As the rule says, safety first, the officials will be at the mercy of the politicians who get the support of the political thugs and compromise security agencies to rig the poll.

In this instance, the electoral officials especially the Returning Officers who are in charge of announcing the results are threatened. By so doing, the returning officers announce results under duress.

A vivid example of this is the Imo West Senatorial election result, won by the incumbent governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha. The returning officer came on national television to read the result under duress, according to him.

It was gathered that the governor and other candidates stormed the Imo West collation centre in Orlu after the Returning Officer for the district, I.I Ibeabuchi halted the collation process.

Okorocha was said to have arrived at the venue in an attempt “to convince the officer to continue the process.”

4. Disrupting INEC’s logistics process: Politicians also achieve this means by disrupting the logistic processes of election, which include provisions for transportation of results from polling units wards collation centres, designated locations (for collation centres) as well as designated time for collation of results and provision of necessary amenities such as electricity in collation centres.

In an attempt to formulate figures, card readers can are also compromised not to be effective in selected areas. INEC had already declared such results invalid due to deliberate attempt no to use the smart card readers.

The transport unions also won’t be handy in this case as the drivers may decide to arrive late with election materials as well tamper with election results.

5. Compromise INEC officials: Some INEC officials are compromised by politicians who are believed to be powerful. They bribe the ad-hoc staff of the electoral commission with money and properties. Sometimes, they are promised appointments and employment provided they play along in the rigging plan.

The corps members, being the heads of polling units are easily threatened if they failed to play along. So,  for some of them, they dance to the tune of politicians wanting to rig by accepting bribes and gratifications, compromising process.

It also an easy strategy because it is an easy way to rig. The corps members, most of whom are vulnerable and desperate to make quick cash, often fall prey to offers of a huge amount of money.

6. Snatching of ballot boxes/papers in your rival’s polling unit: This is the most common ways to rig an election in Nigeria.

All a candidate, who is interested in rigging votes is to get thugs, who will storm the polling units and cart the ballot boxes in the polling unit where his/her rival will likely garner more votes.

This will make INEC cancel the election in that polling unit thereby, cancelling all votes that he/she (rival) would have garnered.

For instance, due to snatching and burning of ballot boxes by hoodlums at Ago Palace Way, Okota areas of Lagos State, which is considered to be a stronghold of the opposition party in Lagos, INEC cancelled election from there.

Elections were also cancelled in so0me other parts of the country, with River state being prominent.

7. Electoral violence/thuggery: This is more or less an extension of the above point. In this instance, the thugs invade the polling unit and not only destroy election materials but also attack the electorate and INEC officials causing everyone present to flee for their own safety.

This is intended to get electorates scared of this manner can make the electorate scared and cause low turnout of voters in the polling unit which will eventually affect the result of your opponent.

Mojeed is a thoroughbred and detailed photojournalist and media analyst. He is a graduate of Mass Communications from Lagos State University, LASU

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