In the recent governorship election in Bayelsa State, Udengs Eradiri, the candidate representing the Labour Party, has voiced his dismay over the widespread vote-buying practices that marred the electoral process throughout the state.
Eradiri, who experienced defeat in his own polling unit to Governor Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lamented not only the election system but also the electorate’s priorities, expressing his belief that people had failed to grasp the importance of voting for their future.
Eradiri firmly pointed out that the issue at hand extended beyond the political actors and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the voters themselves, who appeared more inclined to immediate financial gains than ensuring a transparent and responsible governance.
The Labour Party candidate made serious allegations, claiming that the election had effectively become a matter of the highest bidder, with votes allegedly being bought and sold for sums ranging from N12,000 to N40,000.
Eradiri acknowledged his inability to compete financially with the dominant political parties engaged in this questionable practice.
He expressed his deep disappointment, saying, “We have a long way to go with this country and money politics. I thought I had found a solution, but I was wrong.
I did not enter this race to buy votes.” Eradiri went on to highlight his sadness at the electorate’s apparent disregard for crucial issues such as education and the economy, asserting that they seemed primarily concerned with having cash in hand.
Eradiri shared his initial optimism that the people, having witnessed the consequences of poverty and neglect, would prioritize voting for positive change.
However, he acknowledged that vote-buying had become the norm, and people’s decisions seemed solely based on financial incentives.
The Labour Party candidate emphasized that he had joined the political contest with the intention of providing a different approach to governance and not as a means to acquire power through inducing voters with money.
He believed that raising awareness about critical issues and engaging with the people through town hall meetings could lead to positive change.
In his concluding remarks, Eradiri decried the electorate’s disinterest in societal matters, emphasizing their preference for immediate financial gain.
He described the optics of peaceful voting at polling stations while behind the scenes, buying and selling of votes were rampant.
Despite his personal satisfaction with his principles, he recognized the need for a fundamental shift in the electorate’s mindset to combat corruption in the electoral process and work towards a better society.
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