By Emeka Mamah & Henry Umoru
More controversies have followed last Saturday’s rescheduling of the general elections that were originally billed to start today with the Presidential elections. And there are also emerging factors that may play out before the new date of March 28, for the Presidential election.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, rejected the use of computerised Card Reader Machines by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for accreditation and tracking of information on the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs. According to INEC, the machine could help in checking rigging as it would display information on any person who has voted. But the PDP now fears that the machine may not make for credible elections as it is said to easily malfunction especially when the battery weak.
The party also accused INEC of engaging in a lot of manipulations that could favour the opposition, saying that as a ruling party, the PDP was only being diplomatic so as not to be seen as being opposed to the polls.
National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu made these observations in Abuja, when a delegation of Africa Union election observers led by AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi visited the national secretariat of the PDP.
The Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, also yesterday asked INEC to accept blame for not being ready to conduct a free and fair elections in the country, saying ‘’that the evidences are on the ground to show that the commission was not ready to go ahead with the polls as it claimed.’’
EACH CARD READER WORKS FOR ONLY FIVE HOURS
This was even as sources told the Saturday Vanguard that for each card reader to be effective, it has to be charged for about 24 hours prior to the election even as it may not last for long hours before the battery would go down.
However, Muazu noted that although the use of card reading machine which forms part of INEC’s Electronic Management Tool, EMT was a welcome development in the nation’s political history, the failure of INEC to meet up with the role expected of it as it had not test-run the machines for Nigerians to see whether the process would be successful or not was a big failure by INEC.
According to him, Nigerians cannot be used as guinea pigs over the matter, hence INEC management must get their acts right before introducing the device.
REPORT INEC MANIPULATIONS TO THE WORLD
The PDP National Chairman urged the delegation to ensure that as observers, they report the manipulations of the distribution of the PVCs by INEC to the whole world.
“What is happening today in INEC has been highlighted to them via letters from our party to Jega’s office on so many issues including the fraud of PVC that we anticipated…
‘’We all said this in writing to INEC. It is because we are the ruling party, we don’t want to be unruly. If we were the opposition, we would make a lot of noise and say a lot of things.
“In their own sense of judgment, how does Professor (Attahiru) Jega who is the leader of INEC exonerate himself from disenfranchising 23 million Nigerians and telling the world that he was ready for elections? We are saying that he was not ready. 23 out of the 68 million registered voters by his personal submission in the Council of State’s meeting that was held last week to review the preparedness or otherwise of INEC to conduct the election had not been distributed; 23 million PVCs were either produced and not distributed or not produced at all.
“This must be highlighted and made known to the world. Your report must be very explicit on what has happened. He is economical with the truth. We must not have 100 as the basis for distribution and collection; But 23 million out of 68 million eligible voters or 34% as the INEC Chairman himself confirmed (are not going to vote) is unacceptable by any standard,” he said.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation of observers Dr. Abdullahi had noted that they were impressed not seeing street fighting or protest trailing the postponement of the elections, adding that the development showed the level of maturity of Nigerians and the depth of democratic practice in the country.
Abdullahi, a former commissioner in Mu’azu’s cabinet when he was governor for Bauchi State between 1999 to 2007, was accompanied on the visit by five other members of the AU observer mission on the March 28 elections.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the CLO, Mr Ibuchukwu Ezike who spoke on the INEC’s level of preparedness for the elections yesterday blamed the commission over its alleged preparations for polls.
CLO POOH-POOHS INEC FOR ALLEGED POOR PREPARATIONS
Ezike, the CLO executive secretary said, ‘’the following lend support for my argument. Printing of PVCs is still in progress. Over 20 million Nigerians are yet to collect their PVCs. None display of voters registers as required by law.
‘’About 700,000 ad-hoc staff still in the process of being recruited and trained. Card readers being used for the first time in the country yet to be test-run or tested. Lopsided distribution of PVCs as well as lack of full complement of ballot boxes for elections among others.
‘’Why is the INEC misleading Nigerians on these issues and people are singing praises for it?’’
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO), has frowned at the Presidency’s and PDP’s strident and scurrilous castigation of the use of Card Readers for ensuring the integrity of the forthcoming general elections, as being proposed by INEC, as the PDP’s agenda for the manipulation of the electoral process.
The APCPCO in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu described the action by the ruling PDP and the Presidency as a precursor to the move to stampede the resignation of Professor Attahiru Jega before the appointment of a pliable lackey, who according to him, would do the hatchet job of stopping the use of the Card Readers.
Shehu noted that the INEC’s decision to use the Card Readers was borne out of the need to ensure electoral transparency and integrity.
“Aside the huge financial investment involved in the procurement of the Card Readers, the PDP’s desire to hoodwink the Nigerian people on this anti-rigging device, is not just subterranean but an affront on the independence of the electoral body.
“We are equally aware that this is the latest gambit of the ruling Party in its desire to thwart the electoral wishes of majority of Nigerian electorate. We are aware also of the use of its tested and well-oiled rigging machine of unregistered voters and accentuation of same by the use of soldiers that had been specially trained and reserved for that nefarious purpose.
“We have said it that, based on the ruling of the Federal High Court, Sokoto against the use of Soldiers for Election duties, our Party is opposed to the use of soldiers for the Election Days on 28th March and 11th April, 2015.
“We insist that the use of Card Readers for authenticating the propriety of the Permanent Voters’ Cards presented and ultimately, accreditation of Voters, as envisioned by INEC. These, in our estimation as a credible Party, remain the irreducible minimum that must form the basis for the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections on 28th March and 11th April, 2015.
“We call on all Nigerians to remain vigilant and we, on our part, shall remain alive to our responsibility in galvanizing the citizenry for assuring on the virility of the Nigerian nation. Indeed, eternal vigilance is the price of our liberty.”