INEC Has a James Bond Plan for the 2023 Elections, Sort Of

October 11, 2022

This is Zikoko Citizen’s Game of Votes weekly dispatch that helps you dig into all the good, bad, and extremely bizarre stuff happening in Nigeria and why they’re important to you.

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Anyone who envies the job of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a bloody liar. Every four years, the commission coordinates a national election involving tens of millions of voters spread across 774 local government areas in Nigeria. 

And considering the dire consequences of messing up an election, we’d say INEC’s job isn’t the easiest in the world. Some of us can’t even organise a house party without a guest peeing in the kitchen sink.

INEC Has A James Bond Plan For The 2023 Elections, Sort Of

[Image source: Shutterstock]

With the scale of INEC’s task, it’s unsurprising that there are problems. For example, Nigerian elections have suffered from violent acts like ballot snatching and voter intimidation for as long as anyone remembers. 

But another problem that has prominently hampered Nigerian elections is vote-buying. Party agents target vulnerable voters at the polls and pay them to vote for their candidates. 

This culture cheapens the democratic process and boosts the victory chances of only the unworthy and desperate. But INEC has a solution for that vote-buying problem ahead of the 2023 elections: secret agents.

INEC Has A James Bond Plan For The 2023 Elections, Sort Of

[Image source: Zikoko Memes]

One of INEC’s core strategies to clamp down on vote-buying is to unleash spies on polling units. These James Bond wannabes are plain-clothed security officers deployed to catch vote-buyers and sellers. But INEC won’t stop there. 

The agency is also repositioning voting cubicles to make it easier for voters to cast secret ballots. This creates a trust issue between buyers and sellers as a vote-buyer can’t confirm that the seller is voting in the direction agreed between both parties. And if you’re thinking, “That’s what phone cameras are for, duh,” INEC also plans to forbid voters from taking their mobile phones into the voting cubicles.

INEC Has A James Bond Plan For The 2023 Elections, Sort Of

[Image source: Zikoko Memes]

Vote-buying is a very serious problem for Nigeria’s democratic process. The nation’s laws already criminalise the buying and selling of votes with a maximum fine of ₦500,000, 12 months imprisonment or both. But this isn’t enough to deter politicians from buying the conscience of voters.

However, INEC’s James Bond plan won’t be enough to limit vote-buying. As a voter on election day, when you see something at a polling booth, say something. Your future depends on it.

What else happened this week?

Ethiopia withdraws red carpet treatment for Nigerian travellers

[Image source: Zikoko Memes]

Nigerians must be crowned the eighth wonder of the world with all the shege that we use our eyes to see as citizens of Nigeria. This week, the Ethiopian government announced that Nigerians have to apply for a visa before they hop on a plane to visit their — let’s not forget — very war-torn country. Before this announcement, Nigerians could jump on that plane first and get a visa on arrival there.

Ethiopia didn’t even dignify Nigeria with an explanation for why it made this decision, but the same restriction applies to 41 other countries mainly in Africa and South America. At least we can say it’s not only us, but this isn’t about just Ethiopia. The country’s action continues a worrying trend of visa restrictions hurting Nigerians.

In September, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reviewed its visa regime and stopped issuing tourist visas to Nigerians under the age of 40 years, except for those applying for family visas. Earlier in July, Turkey also barred Nigerian applicants from accessing the e-visa provisions and they didn’t even bother to announce it. Nigerians need answers as their movement around the world is made harder by the colour of their passports.

INEC Has A James Bond Plan For The 2023 Elections, Sort Of

Let my people go! [Image source: Zikoko Memes]

In times like this, you have to wonder what the Minister of Foreign Affairs is doing, and we assure you his name isn’t Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

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Ehen, one more thing…

It’s only months until the 2023 general elections and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced salary increments for civil service workers in Lagos State. You’re not sleek Cousin Jide. We know vote-buying when we see it.

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