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The South-south region of Nigeria had the highest prevalence of vote-buying during the 2019 national elections, according to a new report, which also showed people with formal education were more involved in the problem.

The report, based on a nationwide survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) also shows that South-south has a more negative perception of the country’s elections than the other five regions. The oil-rich region is closely followed by the North-west and North-central regions, the report shows.

The report, titled “Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends,” defines ”prevalence of vote-buying” as “the share of adult Nigerians that were personally offered money or favour in exchange for their votes.” On the other hand, ”perception of vote-buying” is defined as “the awareness and belief of adult Nigerians on electoral fraud.”

The report covered 33,067 respondents across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, who took part in the survey.

The South-south had 24 per cent vote-buying prevalence, while on the national scale, 21 per cent of the respondents reported that they were personally offered money or non-monetary favour in exchange for their votes in the last elections.

About 17 per cent of the survey respondents nationally were personally offered money, while four per cent were offered favour in exchange for their votes.

PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported UNODC findings that Nigerians who had encounters with public officers paid an estimated N675 billion cash as bribes in 2019.

Vote-buying across the regions

According to the report, the south-south had the highest prevalence of vote-buying, with 24 per cent of the adults in the region reporting they were offered bribes in exchange for the votes and 76 per cent having the perception that vote-buying occurred during the 2019 elections. The region consists of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States.

The region also recorded fatalities as the elections in Rivers State were fraught with extreme violence involving the country’s military and armed supporters of politicians.

The North-west zone had 23 per cent prevalence of vote-buying, just slightly less than the South-south’s rate. Only 53 per cent of the respondents in the region, which has the largest population and the highest number of states, at seven, in Nigeria, believed vote-buying occurred.

The North-central recorded 21 per cent rate of vote-buying while 64 per cent of those surveyed perceived vote-buying affected the elections.

While the South-east and the South-west regions had an equal ratio on the prevalence of vote-buying at 19 per cent each, they, respectively, had 73 per cent and 71 per cent on the perception that vote-buying occurred during the polls.

The North-east region, which faces a humongous humanitarian disaster due to the long-running Boko Haram terrorism, had the lowest prevalence and perception of vote-buying at 18 per cent and 52 per cent respectively.

Vote Buying in Schools

The report also showed Nigerians with formal education were more involved in vote-buying than those not enrolled in formal schooling.

The latter encountered the least incidence of vote-buying at 19.4 per cent, while students at the secondary level recorded the highest prevalence at 22.7 per cent.

Vote buying infographic Vote buying infographic

While students at post-secondary and non-tertiary education (admission seekers) recorded the second-highest in terms of the prevalence of vote-buying at 20.7 per cent.

Those people with either a primary or secondary education reported slightly higher levels 22 -23 per cent.

Vote-buying involving labour classes

According to the report, 23.4 per cent of the surveyed employers with dependent employees reported they were offered bribes to vote. 23 per cent of the self-employed also did.

Private-sector employees, the unemployed, and apprentices also reported being offered bribes to vote at 22.0 per cent, 20.9 per cent, and 19.1 per cent rates respectively.

The retired people ranked the least involved in vote-buying at 13.5 per cent.

Vote-buying is a practice of inducing voters to make them vote for a particular candidate during an election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23, while governorship and state assembly elections were held on March 9. Supplementary elections in five states were also held in March.

According to observers and PREMIUM TIMES’ reports, the last general elections were marred by vote-buying and intimidation of voters, among other irregularities.

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room in its 2019 election report in July said an estimated 626 persons were killed across Nigeria in the six months between the start of the election campaign and the commencement of the general and supplementary elections.

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