Elections: Low turnout, vote-buying prominent in Niger

By Tina George, Minna

#TrackNigeria: The governorship and House of Assembly elections in Niger state recorded prominent low voters turnout as well as massive vote-buying in most parts of the state.

While most voters refused to turn out to cast their votes, those who did looked for the highest bidder before deciding on who to cast their votes for.

Unlike the presidential and national elections where the voters came out before the electoral officers arrived, in the case of the guber elections, the electoral officers had to wait for the electorates to come and cast their votes.

As at 10am, most of the polling units had not accredited one quarter of the number of voters they had in the previous elections.

Meanwhile, there was outright vote-buying as the party agents showed cash openly and in the face of security agents.

Most of the polling units visited in Shiroro, Suleja, Chachanga, Lapai and Wushishi local government areas, the voters were being paid between N500 to N2,000 to cast their votes.

In one of the polling units in Suleja, some youths turned down ‘meager’ amount, claiming that while they were told to collect N,1000, the agents gave them only N250.

The youths decided not to cast their vote as they left the polling unit in anger. 

An All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Lapai boasted to our Reporter that he could not lose his polling unit this time.

“The other time, I lost but this time, I have done my homework, I cannot lose this polling unit,” he said.

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Suleja, complained of vote buying, saying the act was not hidden in any way.

“Even with vote-buying, we will have a reasonable vote. We are optimistic. It is very sad that this vote buying is being done out-rightly and not in the hidden. Because of the hunger in the land, the people come out to collect the money and cast their vote.”

However, the Speaker of the Niger state House of Assembly, Hon. Ahmed Marafa disagreed with the nature of vote buying in the election.

While raising alarm over ‘money politics’, Marafa condemned the situation where voters would come to polling units waiting for those that would buy their votes.