The Civil Society and Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), said on Monday endorsements of presidential candidates for elections no longer influenced voting patterns in Nigeria.
The two civil society organisations (CSOs) made the assertion in separate telephone interviews in Abuja.
The pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere; Northern Elders Forum (NEF); Ohaneze Ndigbo and Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) had on Sunday endorsed the PDP’s Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as the elections fast approached.
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, who described the endorsement of a candidate as “a normal political practice,” said the outcome of the forthcoming elections would rest squarely on the decision of the registered voters.
“Therefore, these endorsements and counter endorsements are just normal political practices. I don’t think they were things that had not been done before.
“It is the ordinary voters that matter in any election. Although the leaders have declared their support, the voting pattern lies on the electorate.
“So it is the electorate that will determine who they want to choose and who they do not want to choose,” he said.
Musa-Rafsanjani, who noted that the forthcoming presidential polls would be keenly contested, said both the ruling and the main opposition parties had intensified their canvassing for wide-spread support in order to outdo each other.
“I want to believe that these endorsements are all part of the political moves by all groups, as you can see that the ruling party has also received `defectors’ from time to time from the PDP to APC and vice versa.
“So it is a game of political contest between the APC and PDP,” he said.
Mr Olanrewaju Suraj, Chairman of CSNAC, said “it is unfortunate that those endorsements do not even influence votes anymore.”
“Seriously, those endorsements, I have come to realise that they are just a function not based on the programmes of the candidates or aspirants.
“It is based on the influence of either money or other pecuniary benefits of the leadership of the associations.
“So what I am saying is how politicians have infiltrated the associations and endorsements are done at the penchant of the highest payer or highest bidder or the closest to the leadership of the association.
“People then have no sense of remorse that even if somebody is endorsed today, and the person also performs below expectation and standard, there is no modicum of sense of remorse such that apologies are offered or the organisations are allowed to also hold such people accountable.”
Suraj described the development as “an erosion of values and standard in our society and communities such that associations are not in any way held accountable for some of their actions, statements and utterances.”