As Nigeria gears up for the 2023 Presidential Election, concerns about the fairness and transparency of the electoral process persist.
Despite efforts to improve the process, there are still underhanded tactics that some political parties are using in a bid to manipulate the outcome of the election. Let’s have a look.
One of the most concerning tactics is voter suppression. Some political parties may engage in tactics to prevent certain groups of people from voting, such as opposition party supporters or voters from certain ethnic or religious groups. Tactics may include intimidation, violence, or other forms of coercion. The government and electoral commission must remain vigilant in ensuring that all eligible voters are able to cast their ballot without fear of retribution.
This is evident in the attacks voters due to their party or candidate of choice, and Labour Party’s (LP) reaction to acts of violence on party members.
Another tactic that some political parties are using is vote buying. Offering money or other incentives to voters in exchange for their vote is illegal and can undermine the integrity of the electoral process. Although it can be challenging to police, efforts must be made to enforce election laws and regulations to prevent this tactic from influencing the election outcome.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) intercepted N32.4 million of the highly elusive new naira note, meant to buy votes.
Manipulation of the Media
Political parties may try to manipulate the media in order to sway public opinion in their favor. This may include paying for favourable coverage or using social media to spread propaganda or disinformation. A recent BBC report revealed how Nigeria politician are paying social media influencers to spread deceptive messages.
The media has a critical role to play in informing citizens and holding politicians accountable. Efforts must be made to ensure that the media remains impartial and unbiased in their coverage of the election. The media is yet to be free from political control as a large number of them are own by these power players.
Ethnic or Religious Appeals
Another tactic that some political parties have used is to appeal to voters based on their ethnicity or religion, rather than on their policies or platforms. This is an age-long tool of deception in Nigeria.
While this can be a way to build a loyal base of supporters, it can also deepen ethnic or religious divisions in the country. Political parties should focus on promoting their policies and platforms, rather than resorting to divisive tactics.
Perhaps the most concerning tactic is election rigging. Political parties may engage in election rigging in order to manipulate the outcome of the election in their favour. This can involve tampering with ballot boxes, inflating vote counts, or other forms of electoral fraud. As we await the results of the presidential election, the Labour Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of being involved in rigging.
Although election rigging is illegal, it has been a persistent problem in Nigerian elections. It is essential that the government and electoral commission take all necessary steps to prevent election rigging and ensure a fair and transparent electoral process.
All in all, the 2023 Nigerian Presidential Election presents an opportunity for the country to demonstrate its commitment to democracy and good governance. However, to achieve this goal, all stakeholders must work together to prevent underhanded tactics that may undermine the integrity of the electoral process. Efforts must be made to ensure that the election is free, fair, and transparent, and that the outcome reflects the will of the Nigerian people.
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