The British Government on Friday reacted to last Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State that saw the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Kayode Fayemi, emerge winner of the poll that was marred with obvious vote buying.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, who made the reaction condemned vote-buying during the election, describing it as same thing as other forms of electoral frauds like rigging and ballot stuffing.
The APC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were both accused of vote buying during the just concluded governorship poll in that state.
Arkwright stated this when he addressed newsmen in Abuja soon after he had a meeting with the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
“I was there in Ekiti to monitor elections and I heard a lot of reports of alleged vote buying and we are convinced that some vote buying went on. I condemn it. Vote buying is illegal; it is against the law, it is just as vote rigging, it is just as bad as ballot stuffing.
“We cannot make a distinction when all these activities are illegal so I condemn that. What are we going to do about it? Well we just had a meeting with the chairman of INEC, we have been talking about public awareness and how the political parties themselves can take responsibility for condemning this action and not continuing it.
“We do hope that 2019 will be free, fair, credible and of course, peaceful elections,” he said.
On the election process he said, “I think the election process itself went well, the materials were there, the security forces kept their distance and did manage to keep a peaceful election and we are seeing progress in how INEC is carrying out each election. So, we have confidence in INEC and the chairman.”
While noting, that “the UK has been a very strong supporter of INEC” Arkwright added that UK together with the USAID, “are spending about $60 million over a six-year period in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria.”
Speaking also, the Department for International Development Secretary of State, Penny Maudaunt, urged Nigerian security agencies to be neutral in conduct even as the 2019 general elections approach.
“Though the elections were largely peaceful and results widely endorsed by stakeholders, vote buying by both the main political parties was widely criticised. There is time to tackle some of the challenges noted before next year’s elections. But INEC will not be able to solve all electoral problems on its own. Everyone in society has a role to play and a contribution to make,” he said.