The Labour Party candidate in the governorship election in Bayelsa State, Udengs Eradiri, has lamented over what he described as massive vote-buying that took place at the polling units across the state.
Udengs, who lost his polling unit at Agudama-Ekpetiama to Governor Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), expressed deep disappointment “not on the electoral process alone but on the people themselves because I thought that the people understand now.”
He added that the problem was not only with the political actors and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but with the electorates who did not believe in getting things right but getting them immediately.
Udengs alleged that the election was a matter of highest bidder as votes were sold and bought between N12,000 and N40,000. He added that he did not have the financial muscle to match the dominant parties in the game of vote buying.
Udengs said, “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 come into this race to buy votes.
“I’m disappointed not on the electoral process alone but on the people themselves because I thought that the people understand now. The people have seen the unclothedness of poverty and neglect on them in terms of leadership so I thought they will play along but I feel very sad because probably I thought that would have defined the voting pattern but I was fooled.
“People don’t care about the educational situation, people don’t care about the economic situation. All people care about is money in their hand and that is why I misjudged the people. Before I decided to embark on this journey.
“I thought that people going through this process would have been able to express it in the ballot. Unfortunately vote buying was the order of the day and the people were encouraging it.
“First I didn’t even have the money to buy votes. Secondly I didn’t come and contest for people to be induced so that I will become governor. I came to the contest because I feel that things are not right and I know that I can do it differently.
“I’m believing that if I’m able to engage the people and they understand the issues things will get better and that was why I rigorously campaigned from community to community talking about the issues in town hall meeting to raise the consciousness of the people.
“People are not interested in what happens in the society, people are just interested in what enters their hand, their pocket and their stomach. So the optics of it is that when you go there you see voting is peaceful but behind the scene, you see the buying and selling going on with tallies as you are voting you are collecting your tallies people are showing their votes to confirm.
“People don’t care about what you do, what they are after is money and it is a sad one for my state because for me I wanted to prove that somebody can do this in spite of all the inducements, somebody can say no to it and stand firm because he believes that things need to be better.
“I didn’t contest this election to start going to court. I particularly satisfied my conscience but I know where the problem is not in the political class but in the electorate. The electorate are not prepared; they are encouraging corruption in the society. They are encouraging the kind of electoral process we have in the society.”