BY OKEY NDIRIBE
Despite the outcry by opposition political parties against the electoral register that was used during the recently concluded Anambra State governorship election, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega yesterday rose in defence of the document insisting that it was credible.
Although, Jega acknowledged that the register was not yet the ideal, he explained that the commission offered the people of Anambra state the opportunity to make the register work, but they refused to make use of the opportunity offered by the commission.
Speaking at the Fourth quarterly meeting with registered political parties yesterday in Abuja, the INEC chairman said that the voters register was “not as bad as some people are strenuously trying to make it appear.”
According to Prof Jega: “As we are all aware, complaints were made about the Register of Voters in the aftermath of the Anambra Governorship election, with at least one political party/candidate alleging that the Register is lacking in integrity and calling for the cancellation of the election essentially on account of this. Let me use this opportunity to categorically affirm that while our Register of Voters is not perfect, it has requisite integrity and it compares favourably with any Register of Voters on our continent.”
“It is certainly not as bad as some are strenuously trying to make it appear. Nonetheless, we have to keep on improving upon it and we have planned to keep doing so through the continuous voter registration processes. Our CVR programme provides opportunity for registering all those who have become 18 years old since the last registration exercise; and it also provides an opportunity for all those with missing essential biometric details on the electronic register to be recaptured.
“INEC offered these opportunities to the people in Anambra state last August, before the governorship election; regrettably many did not utilize it. As we move towards 2015, all stakeholders, have a joint obligation to ensure that the CVR is utilized maximally to update and improve upon our Register of Voters.
The chairman told the political parties that the quarterly meeting with them through the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has been affording the commission vital ideas towards strengthening mutual trust ahead of the 2015 elections.
In his own remarks at the occasion, the IPAC chairman, Yunusa Tanko said political parties were alarmed over the magnitude of complaints from discrepancies in the Anambra state governorship election as regards the voters register and public enlightenment in the recent poll.
He said these complaints, informed the visit of IPAC to the INEC chairman.
Tanko observed that registered political parties in the country are ready to work and abide by the relevant laws in the conduct of their activities and expressed hope that INEC would also stick to its electoral rules guiding its affairs.
Nevertheless, all political parties at the meeting applauded INEC over the permanent voters register and its handling of the Anambra state governorship election, except the All Progressive Congress (APC), which described the governorship election as a ‘travesty of justice’.
Almost all the registered political parties attended the meeting with INEC, except the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).