2019: Tell politicians they can no longer buy their way into office – Jega to Nigerians

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has asked Nigerians to let politicians
know that can no longer 'buy' their way into elective positions by
ensuring that the electoral processes are not tampered with.

He said that until the problem of vote-buying is tackled in the
country, those in government will remain irresponsible and
non-responsive to the aspirations of the people.

Jega said this in Abuja on Friday at an interactive forum organised by
the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, to interrogate how
African government's can reconcile procedural democratic practices
with substantive democracy.

He noted that the struggle for democracy to survive in Africa has been
characterized by frustration because of the failure of governance to
satisfy the aspirations and expectations of the people as well as
promote stability.

Jega also decried the mode of politics in most parts of Africa which
he said excludes a large segment of the population, especially women
and youths from the political process.

On the issue of corruption, the erstwhile INEC boss disclosed that
reliance of democratic governments in Africa on extractive revenue
such as sales of crude oil as opposed to tax-based revenue raised a
major challenge to the fight against corruption.

He, however, maintained that despite the frustrations of democracy,
militarianism was not an option.

His words: "Unless the people let politicians know that they cannot
buy their way into office every four or five years, through the ballot
box, they will never be responsible and responsive to the needs and
aspirations of the people.

"Voters should realize that they are critical stakeholders that
deserve to be listened to. Hence, it is imperative they begin to
protect the integrity of the electoral process so as to have
sufficient moral ground to hold those in governance accountable.

"Relying exclusively on extractive revenue is unhealthy for good
governance and democracy. All a public office holder needs to do to
loot the treasure is simply to divert funds accruing to government
from the extractive sector of the economy.

"However, if the government raises bulk of its revenue by compelling
people to pay their taxes, the people will in turn be interested in
knowing how the taxes they paid were utilized, and that will reduce
the level of the corruption perpetuated by those in government."

"We need to careful with what the frustrations of democracy can lead
us into. Militarianism should never again be an option for us.
Democracy may not be the only game but it is a major game in town," he
concluded.

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