Election years in many countries the world over are periods when millions of dollars are spent in electioneering. Some of these monies are spent on party paraphernalia and distributed on campaign tours and on rally grounds. The items range from pieces of cloth, farm tools, enema bulb syringes, monetary incentives and cars, to mention but a few.
Though many politicians are of the view that these "goodies" that are distributed are nothing but means of spreading their message to electorates, many people on the other hand strongly disagree. Many bodies have come out to clearly call these gestures, nothing but a way of buying votes. Vote buying is a corrupt election practice. A vote buying bribe is that which has monetary value. According to many organizations, vote buying is a threat to the conduct of fair elections.
Vote buying has and continues to be pervasive in many electoral regimes. Yet the relationship between vote buying and citizen behavior in the context of the secret ballot remains largely unknown. No one particular political party can be exonerated from any acts of vote buying in its entirety. The Ghanaian electorates however have become aware of the vote buying schemes and have hinted at teaching politicians who buy votes a bitter lesson by accepting their goodies but vote against them.
In the run-up to Ghana's 2016 general elections, almost all the parties have given out one form of paraphernalia or product embossed with the picture of either the presidential or parliamentary candidate of the electoral area involved. The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), has come out to clearly condemn these acts as vote buying and an attempt to usurp the true will of the Ghanaian electorate. In recent times, the NPP has accused John Mahama and the NDC government of numerous vote buying schemes which they believe would fail.
Just a few days ago, a vote buying scandal rocked the presidency when the NPP alleged that the president and his brother tried bribing Daniel Bugri Naabu, an executive in the NPP to smear dirt on the person of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. These allegation can fall under the vote buying category. However, the NPP can also not absolved itself from these accusations since their the NPP can equally be accused of buying votes in the sharing of party-branded souvenirs in order to convince the electorates.
Vote buying is wrong because does not augur well for national development and therefore serves as a bane to free and fair elections. Come December 7, the electorate would be the ones to decide whether to vote on issues and situations or vote based on a compromised position. Let us wait and see what the outcome would be.