Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanoipekun (SAN) has expressed sadness over incidences of vote buying by politicians across political parties in the country.Olanipekun said such practice could only further impoverished the people.
In an interaction with the media recently, the erstwhile NBA president also said President Mohammadu Buhari should not be accorded superior rights over other aspirants in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying all presidential contestants deserve equal rights to canvass for votes in line with the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
On the declaration of intention to re-contest in 2019, Olanipekun said it is wrong for some Nigerians to ask Buhari not to run in the February presidential election.
He contended that running for the presidency is the constitutional right of Buhari and other interested in that position and any other elective office.
The legal luminary who expressed sadness and worry over politicians’ penchant for vote buying at elections, said the practice has aggravated poverty in the land. He said the politicians should use such money to create jobs for the unemployed Nigerians.
The legal practitioner urged Nigerians to start asking questions from those seeking public office while candidates running should unfold their manifestos and programmes to voters.
He said: “In this season of election and electioneering, my plea is that anybody who wants to contest must be engaged by the electorate.
“Everybody has a right to contest as long as he or she meets the requirements of the law.
I have the right to vote for the candidate of my choice. Let us listen to those who want to occupy elective offices: state Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, governorship, and presidency.
I am not one of those who will say no; this man should not contest, why?
“If you want me to mention name, I am one of those who will say President Buhari should not contest, no.
He has a right but in contesting, others should be able to say ‘I am better than him’ and he should prove that he is better than them and Nigerians should make their choice.
“But we should not disallow others from expressing their own views. Contesting elections is one’s constitutional right. Did former President Olusegun Obasanjo not contest for second term? Did Goodluck Jonathan not contest for second term?
“Why should Buhari’s be different? Others also have a right to contest and if he is contesting on the platform of his political party, he does not have superior right over other candidates.
Olanipekun also warned politicians against desecrating the ballot box by attempting to steal votes, which he described as a heinous crime against humanity, saying it is possible to stop poverty in Nigeria, when we respect the ballot box.
He said the ballot box must be treated as holy because it represents the collective conscience of the people, which nobody must defraud.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Staff in Imo State, Chief Uche Nwosu said any attempt by the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), to present an Igbo man as its vice presidential candidate for the 2019 polls, would be rejected.
He said such attempt would amount to offering the Southeast a ‘Greek gift.’
He however urged Igbo people to cast their votes for President Buhari, for their enhanced chances in 2023.
The Guardian 19/04/2018