Vote Buying and its Implication on Democratic Governance: A Study of Ondo State 2020 Governorship Election

Jimoh, Adebayo Zaka (2021-04)


Vote buying has taken the centre stage in Nigeria’s political process. This is because parties and candidates have shown by their conduct during political campaigns, that good party manifestoes and integrity of candidates jostling for public offices are no longer sufficient to guarantee electoral success. In view of this, they resort to vote buying. Also, the electorates on the other hand too have obviously demonstrated cynical electoral behavior by the readiness to sell their votes to the highest bidder. This study attempted to find out vote buying and its implication on democratic governance a study of Ondo State 2020 governorship election. Consequently, the specific objectives of this study were: (a) to determine whether material gifts which politicians and their agents issue to the electorates during the October 10, 2020 gubernatorial election in Ondo State influence their voting patterns; (b) to determine the people’s perception of why candidates buy votes during the October 10, 2020 gubernatorial election in Ondo State; (c) to determine the voters' perception of the impact of vote-buying on good governance during the October 10, 2020 gubernatorial election in Ondo State. The overriding significance of this study is to add up to the growing literature on vote-buying and its implication on democratic governance and to guide Electoral Management bodies on how to curb vote buying in future elections. Both primary and secondary sources of data were used in the study, while primary data were gathered through administration of questionnaire and interviews, secondary data were sourced from books, journals, newspaper articles and observers’ report of the election. The study revealed among other things that: that vote-buying and issuance of material gifts to electorates during elections influenced the voting pattern and is rife among the downtrodden and therefore, pose a very big challenge to all stakeholders in Nigeria electoral system, particularly (INEC). If elections are to be free and fair, and work for the good of democratic governance, the issue must be addressed as soon as possible. Another finding of this study is that, the people are aware that issuance of material gifts during elections amounts to electoral corruption, has an impact on good governance and therefore, not a good practice. They are also aware that elections are a good mechanism of choosing leaders of their own choice and that this mechanism (elections) gives them the power to decide the fate of the existing government. In short, they are aware of the importance of elections in a democratic dispensation. However, the paradox is that while they are aware of the damage electoral corruption can do on democracy, they continue to accept bribes during elections as witnessed in the case study. The study recommended among other things; political education and civic awareness by relevant institutions to enlighten the electorate on the futuristic implications of vote buying in the democratic process; enforcement of the existing electoral regulations on party finances; and enthronement of good governance and improvement of the conditions of the ordinary people this is because where poverty is reduced to the barest minimum; the electorates can then make independent electoral decisions in voting for credible politicians rather than incompetent but money spending politicians; strengthening the democratic institutions in Nigeria. There is a need for further research and academic interest in the area of vote-buying and its perceived implications on democratic governance. These, if tenaciously adhered to, will no doubt launch Nigeria into an enduring democratic process.