Nigerians: Vote Buying a Common Occurrence

Publication Date: 
11 Apr 2007

News Type:

Washington, DC – APRIL 12, 2007 – A new survey from IFES indicates that more than seven out of ten Nigerians believe that vote buying happens either “all of the time” or “most of the time” in the country’s elections. At the same time, nearly four in ten respondents say they have a close friend or relative who was offered money or goods to vote for a particular candidate in the 2003 presidential elections.

Nigerians are scheduled to cast their ballots for state governors and legislators on April 14, and the president and federal legislators a week later in polls that should mark the first transition from one elected civilian leader to another in Africa's most populous country.

IFES and Practical Sampling International, a Nigerian-based research group, conducted face-to-face interviews with 2,410 Nigerians of voting age in all 36 states and the federal capital territory February 13-25. The survey, paid for by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

IFES Senior Political Finance Advisor Marcin Walecki said vote buying drives up the costs of elections for candidates and may prevent many qualified and honest candidates from running. At the same time, voters who do not accept bribes may feel that the system is so corrupted that their vote does not count.

“If you have such a system of vote buying then elections become a marketplace,” Walecki said.

To combat this, Nigeria’s National Assembly and the Independent National Election Commission released public funds to political parties for the first time this year. In addition, Nigeria’s new election law sets up a system under which INEC conducts annual audits of political parties’ finances. IFES advised the election commission on these reforms and the creation of Africa’s first political party finance manual.

Some of the survey’s other findings include:

• Almost all Nigerians surveyed (93 percent) said they thought that it was wrong to receive payment in exchange for their votes. Only 6 percent said that it was not wrong.

• A solid majority (65 percent) believe that selling their vote is “punishable,” while 28 percent believe while it is “understandable.”

• When asked to name Nigeria’s biggest problems, more than a third of voters say poverty (37 percent), corruption and the mismanagement of public funds (37 percent) or unemployment (35 percent). Another 30 percent mentioned the lack of basic amenities.

CONTACT: Laura Ingalls in Washington, 202-350-6729, lingalls@ifes.org

Rudolph Elbling in Abuja, + 806 596 1813

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IFES is an international, nonprofit organization that supports the building of democratic societies.

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