The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has advocated the institution of civic education in school curriculum to highlight the evils in vote selling and vote buying at elections and discourage citizens from engaging in them.
Lawan made the remarks when a group known as Polling Unit Ambassadors of Nigeria paid him a visit at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The leader of the group, Ambassador General Dabas Suleiman told the Senate President that his members were out to sensitize and discourage vote selling and vote buying at elections in the country.
He said they would register their presence in all the polling units across the country to guard against vote selling and vote buying during the forthcoming polls.
Responding, the Senate President said: “How I wish everybody can be an ambassador against vote buying or selling. To be a polling unit ambassador is something that you have decided because you think the present situation is not good enough.
“People sell their votes and people buy votes during elections. For those that sell, I think we need to enlighten them, educate them. That your vote is your liberty. That your vote is your freedom. Your vote is your education. Your vote is your health.
“In fact, your vote is your life in a democracy. And if you sell it, it is like you are mortgaging your education, your life because of pittance. So we need to educate those who sell their votes.
“Election environment is like a market because you cannot have a vote to sell if you don’t have a buyer. And the crime is evil. The vote buyer identifies those who are willing to sell and infact, left to me, I think the vote buyer is even more criminals than the vote sellers especially in Nigerian case because most people who sell their votes are voters who hardly understand the implications of what they are doing.
“Those who are enlightened hardly sell their votes and therefore people take advantage of those who are poor, who are not sufficiently educated or not educated at all, who live in rural areas and so on and so forth.
“In the 2022 Electoral Act that the National Assembly amended and signed by Mr President, vote buying and vote selling are punishable. And we have made the sanction very stiff because we have to discourage people from selling their votes or people from buying votes.
“But I also believe that we don’t have to wait until somebody buys vote or sells vote and then you prosecute such person. We need to educate people right from, maybe primary school. Where is our Civic education. Citizens should grow up to know that vote buying or vote selling is criminal.
“We need to work on both fronts. While we arrest and prosecute those that are involved in vote buying and selling, we should also ensure education like you are doing now, going round to say this is bad, this is wrong.
“But we should institute it in our curriculum so that right from childhood, primary school, secondary school, people know that once you reach voting age, that your vote can make a difference in your life and don’t joke with it.
“So we have to do a lot more in terms of how we deal with the situation because stopping it at the polling station is like you are waiting for something to happen and therefore, at that point, you are simply reacting.
“But if we start educating our youths, our children right from basic education, it is like everybody will turn to a polling unit ambassador because everybody would have known the disadvantage of selling votes or the evil of buying votes.”