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INEC’s permanent backwardness

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) makes too many important decisions to be left in its stiff ways.

The waste INEC embraces and government’s willingness to fund it is a scandal — it is a vote for backwardness under the guise of technology. The Federal Government’s approval of an additional N2.11 billion for INEC’s voters’ new cards is a decision to support waste.

In 2010 INEC got N73 billion to conduct a rig-proof 2011 elections. It promoted its abilities and readiness to deliver.

“The commission’s report indicated that there were about 87 ways of rigging elections that were discovered and since that time INEC has been doing everything possible to block those loopholes,” Professor Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman, said  in November 2010.

Jega raised the bar of public expectations. “It is our resolve to be guided by transparency, integrity, credibility, impartiality and dedication. We will be firm, fair and forthright in all we do. We shall not do the wrong things, we shall not encourage others to do the wrong things and we shall stop those, who choose to do the wrong things.”

The public is still wondering how these played out in the 2011 elections. Technology, which Jega trusted to assail the challenges, did not fare better.

“The significance of the new software is that it will tackle many of the lingering challenges that had questioned the credibility of our voters’ register,” he said. The direct data capturing machine performed no wonder. It compounded the issues. Nobody seemed to understand how it worked; INEC did not care.

For all his praise of the new technology, it is already being replaced with permanent voters’ cards, which are permanent only in name. They would also be replaced by the national identity cards “in future elections,” but the permanent cards have a life span of 10 years.

Would simple logic not mean that if the cards are issued in 2013, they should remain in use by 2023? Yet there are doubts that they would be used after 2015. Why does government permit INEC’s wastes?

If the national identity cards are replacing the voters’ cards, why plunge into the “permanent voters’ cards” if it is not another opportunity to exhaust public resources? The sloppiness in the 2011 elections was excused because the technology was new and INEC leadership was new too.  Are we seeking another INEC excuse for 2015?

Nothing is wrong with the current voters’ cards. Government only needs to investigate if the cards have the features INEC claims and why they have not been used to forestall rigging.

INEC does not need permanent voters’ cards. It is a waste at a time shrinking resources demand more prudence.


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