Polls: No going back on Card Readers, says INEC

INEC‘Policemen’ seize PVCs from owners

Cards collection extended to March 22

Opponents of Card Reader got yesterday some bad news: the machine will be used for the March 28 and April 11 elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did a test run of the machine last Saturday. It was largely successful. This, said an INEC chief, has raised the agency’s confidence in the machine, which it insists will curb rigging.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is leading the opposition against the machine, saying it is new and untested.

INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega will meet with Resident Electoral Commissioners on Wednesday in Abuja to discuss the Saturday  mock election, especially the use of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

Contrary to reports, only one case of a weak  Card Reader was recorded at INEC’s Situation Room on Saturday.

INEC yesterday extended the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from March 8 to March 22.

As at March 4, the commission had recorded 80.3 percent collection of the PVCs nationwide.

A National Commissioner, who spoke with our correspondent, said the electoral body would not drop Card Readers.

He said: “Nothing happened during the mock election on Saturday to warrant going back on the use of Card Readers for the general elections. The deployment of the Card Readers was successful and even international observers from the UN have attested to it.

“Contrary to some claims, only one case of Card Reader challenge was recorded at our Situation Room and it was a human thing.

“And concerning some alleged hitches, there were guidelines  on what to do at any polling unit to make sure that an eligible voter is allowed to exercise his or her right.”

Responding to a question, the highly-placed source said: “The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega will meet with the National Commissioners and all the 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners on Wednesday in Abuja on the outcome of the Mock Election in 12 states and the use of Card Readers.”

The INEC chairman’s Chief Press Secretary Mr. Kayode Idowu, told our correspondent that the mock election was “largely successful”.

“The flaws being claimed were anticipated. The states where fingerprints were not authenticated had the PVC incident form procedure, it was agreed with political parties that the form will be filled,” Idowu said.

Meanwhile, the deadline for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) was yesterday extended to March 22.

Prior to the extension, the collection of PVCs, which had reached 80.3 per cent as at March 4, would have ended yesterday.

A statement signed by Idowu said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the deadline for collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) across the country by additional two weeks.

“The collection will continue until March 22nd, 2015, superseding the earlier deadline of March 08th 2015.

“This latest extension offers the last opportunity for duly registered persons to collect their PVCs before the general elections scheduled for March 28th and April 11th, 2015.

“INEC hereby calls on registered persons that are yet to collect their PVCs to use this last opportunity in doing so, in order to participate in the forthcoming general elections.”

The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties(CNPP) yesterday asked INEC to stick to the use of Card Readers.

The conference, which gave the advice in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, urged INEC to take note of the few lapses noted and improve on the device, so as to engender free, fair and transparent election.

The statement said: “The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP ) wishes to unequivocally state that we stand on the use of Magnetic Card Reader for accreditation of voters in the 2015 general elections.

“The mock test of the Magnetic Card Reader, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), even if the picture is the only identification matrix, has further emboldened and reinforced our resolve to adopt the device as the best device to avoid mangling and manipulating the electoral process.

“INEC should take note of the few lapses noted and improve on the device, so as to engender free, fair and transparent election. This will put paid to those who would want to repeat in Medical School after failing.

“We are making this declaration because in the absence of genuine reason, we adopt a device which has been used to conduct free, fair and transparent elections in many countries, like the US, UK, Brazil,  Ghana, and the 2014 Indian general  elections, an election where 600 million Indian voters voted seamlessly.

“It is regrettable that those who a few years back, declared that telephone is not for the Nigerian poor are behind the call for the rejection of Magnetic Card Reader technology for accreditation of Nigerian voters.

“We had thought that the lesson today that both the groundnut seller and the rich are using telephone is enough lesson on adaptation of new technology to advance our electoral process, which in the past was marred by irregularities.

“CNPP concurs with the valid evidence that the use of Magnetic Card Reader for accreditation  of voters will minimize, if not eradicate ballot- box snatching, thumb printing of ballot papers and snatching of result sheets.”

The CNPP faulted the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) for its hysteria on Card Readers.

The statement added: “We are therefore at a loss why the largest party in Africa – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – a party that has ruled our dear country for the last 16 years – is jittery and enveloped with hysteria over the use of the Magnetic Card Reader to advance our electoral process.

“To worsen matters, the PDP is desperately recruiting other political parties in this ignoble, undemocratic and unpatriotic onslaught on the nerve of our fledgling democracy.

“Accordingly, we take exception to our membership political parties that are wittingly or unwittingly against the deployment of Magnetic Card Reader, hence threatening the survival of our fledgling democracy and, by extension, the corporate existence of our dear country.

“We have anxiously noted the nefarious,  unethical and undemocratic agitations of some political parties in league with the PDP for either the removal of Professor Attahiru Jega or dumping of Magnetic Reader for no just cause.

“Penultimate week they canvassed with the PDP for postponement of the 14th February presidential elections and it was granted, yesterday they headed for court, asking that Magnetic Card Reader should be discarded and today they are not only canvassing for another postponement, but querying the technical competence of the Card Reader and Jega’s head.

“The mock test invalidates their weak argument. May we ask, if the PDP leadership  is sure of victory, will they have called for postponement of the 14th February presidential election date and suspension of Jega or the rejection of Magnetic Card Reader?

“Or is it morbid election-phobia stimulated in recognition of the core ingredient of election in liberal democracy, which is electoral referendum on the performance of the incumbent, which is making PDP jittery?

“In sum, the CNPP will eject membership political parties that engage in unethical and undemocratic agitation and embark on mass action, if either Jega is removed, Card Reader deleted or even the Temporary Voters Card added for accreditation.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s