Abuja, Nigeria. 22nd November 2022 – A new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed that 37 percent of adult Nigerians interviewed disclosed that the desperation of the political class to win elections is the major cause of vote buying during elections. On the tendency of electorates to accept gifts or favours from politicians and their cronies during electioneering, the poll revealed that 30 percent of respondents who have registered to vote during the 2023 general election claimed that they would accept gifts or favours from politicians and their cronies. Additionally, on the type of gifts or favours that the electorate is likely to accept from the political class and their associates, the survey revealed that 45 percent of respondents would accept money, any gift (21 percent), 10 percent would accept promised jobs or contracts, 9 percent would accept food items and 2 percent would accept clothes.
Furthermore, despite the negative effects of vote buying to democracy, 26 percent of registered voters said they would be willing to sell their votes for monetary or material gains during elections. This shows a lack of understanding on the part of the electorate about the phenomenon of vote buying as a very critical impediment to genuine democratic consolidation, as voters who allow unscrupulous politicians to use them to get into office by means of this electoral shenanigan should know that they are throwing away their fundamental rights to democratic accountability through this selfish act. This gap highlights the need for a campaign against vote-buying and more voter education leading up to the 2023 polls.
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 elections are certain that they will vote. It is worth noting that only 83 percent of these respondents are certain that they will participate in the upcoming elections.
Finally, to paint a clearer picture of how vote-buying can affect the credibility of the 2023 general elections, recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reported a total of 93.5 million registered voters for the 2023 general election, and the poll revealed that out of the 30 per cent who admitted that they would accept a gift, 26 percent are willing to sell their votes for material gains during the elections. 26 percent translates to about 7.3 million votes, and from the previous election, this figure is enough to boost any candidate to win as the current president polled about 15 million votes in the 2019 polls.
Therefore, to combat the threat of vote-buying, relevant stakeholders should demand that the privileges associated with holding political office be significantly reduced, the abusive influence of money in the selection of candidates in political parties be controlled, electorates educated on why they should reject all forms of partisan inducements, and that the electoral commission improves the current measures on ballot secrecy.
These are some of the key findings from the countdown to the 2023 general election polls conducted on the week commencing 31st October 2022. This is the fourth in the series of the monthly election polls conducted by NOIPolls as Nigerians count down to the actual elections in 2023.
The election is a process where the populace is given the opportunity to choose their leaders at various levels from the federal to the state and the local governments in a democratic dispensation. It is a sure path through which the leadership recruitment process takes place in each country, and it is indeed the beauty of democracy affording its citizens the opportunity to choose the people that will represent them at various levels. Nigerians will be going to the election booths in early 2023. This is the 7th consecutive election that will be conducted in the country without interruption. With over 9 million new registrants in the election mostly youths, makes the forthcoming election an interesting one.
However, the country still faces election challenges which include insecurity within the country, INEC preparedness, money politics and election rigging amongst other issues. It remains to be seen if these issues will be addressed before the election or they will form a stumbling block to the success of the forthcoming election.
Against this background, NOIPolls conducted its Election Series Poll to seek the views of Nigerians on vote-buying ahead of the 2023 general elections. This is the fourth in the series of monthly election polls conducted by NOIPolls (the first one was conducted in July 2022) as Nigerians countdown to the 2023 general elections.
The first question sought to gauge the proportion of adult Nigerians nationally who are registered to vote for the 2023 general elections. Furthermore, the study asked respondents who said they registered to vote in the 2023 general elections if they had received their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs). 88 percent said they had received their permanent voter’s card, while 2 percent had their polling units changed to their present addresses. Also, 12 percent of respondents mentioned that they only possessed temporary voter’s cards.
Additionally, the regional outlook on the proportion of respondents who have collected their permanent voter’s card shows that across geopolitical zones in Nigeria, the average percentage of respondents that have collected their PVCs in the northern region stood at 92 percent. Similarly, the average percentage of respondents that have collected their PVCs across the southern region stood at 83 percent
Consequently, to ascertain the degree of voting certainty amongst respondents who stated they have either collected their PVCs or waiting to collect, respondents were asked, “How certain are you that you will vote in the 2023 general elections?” and a huge majority of the respondents (92 percent) affirmed that they were going to vote during the elections.
On the contrary, the poll showed that 8percent of respondents stated that they are not certain they will vote during the elections. Of this 8percent, 4percent said they were unsure about voting in the upcoming elections, while 4 percent said they would not vote at all in the 2023 general elections.
A very common type of electoral violation, “vote-buying,” has proved very difficult to prevent or penalise in Nigeria. According to the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Election Observation Mission, final report on the 2019 general elections revealed that there was a lot of vote buying during the general elections. During the Feb. 23 and March 9 polls, IRI/NDI observers witnessed vote buying at polling units, as well as party agents assisting voters in marking their ballots and violating the secrecy of the vote. The fundamental parts of this infraction include promising, offering, or providing money, products, services, and/or other inducements (such as promises of employment or special favours or treatment) to voters and/or others, including the voters’ families or communities. It also plays out in the run-up to an election, after the election has been declared, or during the campaign, by a political party, candidate, or others (agents) working on their behalf; in a way that is intended, or reasonably may be expected, to influence how people cast or are likely to cast their vote.
Subsequently, the poll sought to understand the tendency of respondents to accept gifts or favours from political parties, party candidates, or their cronies to influence their voting choices and respondents were asked “Supposing a gift or favour is to be offered to you by a political party or candidates during the election, would you accept it?” The results show 30 percent of respondents nationwide answered in the affirmative, while 70 percent of respondents nationwide said no.
In order to determine the type of gift or favour that respondents are most likely to accept from politicians and their cronies during elections, respondents were asked, “In your opinion, what type of gift or favour would you accept?” The results showed that 45 percent of respondents cited money, any gift (21 percent), promised jobs or contracts (10 percent), 9 percent would accept food items, and 2 percent would accept clothes.
Respondents were further asked: “Will this gift or favour influence your decision to vote for the political party or candidates during the election?” The results showed that 26 percent of respondents nationwide stated the gifts or favours they receive from politicians and their cronies can influence their decision on who to vote for during the election. This implies that almost 3 in 10 Nigerians (26 percent) are most likely to sell their vote to politicians and their cronies for material gains during elections.
Finally, the poll sought to gauge the perception of respondents as to why political parties and their candidates engage in vote buying, respondents were asked “In your opinion, why do you think political parties or candidates engage in vote buying?” The results revealed that 37 percent of respondents think that politicians and their affiliates are desperate to win, 13 percent opined that it is a politicking norm, greed/selfishness (10 percent), politicians know people are poor or hungry and will accept gifts to vote them into power (8 percent), lack of confidence (2 percent), and corruption (2 percent).
The poll findings indicate that 26 percent of the electorate in Nigeria is likely to sell their votes during elections for material gains further revealing that vote-buying is a norm in electioneering in Nigeria and that political parties and their cronies are taking advantage of the current poverty level in the country to buy votes from the electorate during elections. Given the above, one thing is clear vote-buying remains a tool in the hands of the Nigerian political class, as recent electoral reforms have seen INEC migrate more towards a digital technology-driven electoral system, which in turn has limited the ability of the political class to manipulate election results in their favour. Vote buying thrives in Nigeria because politics is an investment, the premium on state power is inestimably high, the quest for power by the elites is so desperate, and poverty and illiteracy make people susceptible to material inducement.
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 ensures that the electorates elect the leaders they deem fit for office.
Finally, to drastically reduce the threat of vote-buying, relevant stakeholders should demand that the privileges associated with holding political offices be significantly reduced, the abusive influence of money in the selection of candidates in political parties be controlled, electorates be educated on why they should reject all forms of partisan inducements, and that the electoral commission improves the current measures on ballot secrecy.
The opinion poll was conducted in the week commencing 31st October 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. Interviews were conducted in 5 languages – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Pidgin English, and English. Although we can say with 95 percent confidence that the results obtained were statistically precise – within a margin of error of plus or minus 4.65 percent; we recognize that the exclusive use of telephone polling has its limitation of excluding non-phone-owning Nigerians. Nonetheless, with the country’s tele density put over 100 percent by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), we consider our telephone polling approach appropriate. Also, given the rigorous scientific process of randomization and stratification applied, we can confidently stand by the validity of our methodology and approach.
NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country-specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com.
This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as authors whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited, or published. NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect the views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact, or any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken because of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions, or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.
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