Political Finance and Vote Buying in Nigeria
This paper seeks to interrogate the interface between political finance and vote buying in Nigeria and its implications for democratization and democratic consolidation. Political finance is a growing area of interest in the democratization discourse in emerging, consolidating and established democracies. Despite this, not much scientific study has been done on it in the Nigerian context. This gives cause for worry, given the fact that political finance remains one of the fundamental sources of threats to the democratization processes in the country. The defects in political finance frameworks, both in theory and practice, demands that efforts be made to understand the problem and identify necessary reform areas. These are the central concerns of this paper. In Nigeria, areas that require urgent attention include the regulatory frameworks of political finance particularly the electoral act; implementation agencies especially political parties and the electoral management body; oversight institutions such as civil society organizations, mass media and the judiciary; and a sustainable reorientation of the political community that is always at the receiving end of the corruption of political finance. Such a reform becomes imperative not to curtail party/candidate funding (adequate funding is important to party performance), but to ensure that parties and candidates finance their politics within legal limits and remain accountable to the public through oversight agents. The increasing resort to vote buying (the commercialization of votes) in Nigeria has always tended to strengthen the privatization of politics through the marginalization/exclusion of the people in the public policy processes. Party financiers tend to undertake such expensive investments as a kind of receipt for access to the democratic decision making process to undercut the populace. Overall, it is the democratization process that suffers the risk of corruption and inevitable collapse. This paper explores the origin, metamorphosis, sources, manifestations and effects of corrupted political finance and vote buying in Nigeria. It will conclude with some recommendations on the way forward.
Keywords: Democratisation, Elections, Poltical Finance, Vote Buying, Godfatherism
Jeremiah Shola Omotola
Lecturer 1, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Redeemer's University