Assume a state with about 30 local government areas. Assume each LGA has 10 council wards. That will mean 300 wards in the state. If each ward has 10 polling units, that will mean 3,000 polling units in the state.
If a political party in the 2023 election spent minimum $500 per polling unit in buying votes, that will mean $1,500,000 (One million five hundred dollars).
If as at March 18, 2023, the street exchange rate per Dollar was N740, the $1,500,000 will mean N1,110,000,000. That is N1,110,000,000 (One billon, one hundred and ten million Naira, spent by the political party in vote-buying, in one election day, say March 18, 2023. This may also have been for states having just one election; that is the House of Assembly, and not the governor- ship.
This type of money as widely known comes from the coffers of the state. There is a huge opportunity cost to this because there are many useful things, especially those that can have multiplier effects, which such a state could have invested this money. An enlightened rulership and political class that invests such funds patriotically and with love of the people they rule, will win the minds and support of the people, and will not need to use violence to win elections.
The further expenditure on hiring thugs to destroy and cart away ballot boxes, the costs of bringing in soldiers and policemen, is not part of the bill here. That is additional. Nevertheless, our rulers chose to use force and intimidation, as well as buying the people so they remain in office. This can be different.
The political party and her government decided to spend such amount, N1.11 billion on vote buying, and atomise such significant accumulated financial resources, and this becomes disaggregated into individual hands. This is the opposite of the benefit of financial accumulation, via such tools as taxation, by which small amounts are aggregated from individual units of the economy. Such aggregated financial resources by the state, which are usually significant amounts, should be invested in activities that could create positive development impact.
In serious societies such aggregation via taxation and similar, are preferably invested in a manner that could generate sustained economic growth and development, and by this address unemployment, poverty, and insecurity, among others, while creating a basis for private sector investment, which is imperative for sustainable upliftment of the well-being of the people. The disaggregation of already available significant funds under the control of the state, achieves the opposite.
This is the case, especially in poverty-stricken economies, as the small funds that accrues to the individual voters and party operatives.
Prof. Nwajiuba is a former Vice Chancellor of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State.