By Joseph Erunke
A major crack in the opposition political parties in the country appeared Sunday, as 55 national chairmen of political parties kicked against the call by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, should resign his position.
The PDP had, last Thursday, asked the INEC boss to resign over statements allegedly credited to two INEC Commissioners; Festus Okoye and Haruna Mohammed on Wednesday, that the “card readers were circumvented” in elections conducted by the commission.
The party, in a statement on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the statements were admissions that the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states as well as the Kogi West senatorial polls were rigged.
But the 55 national chairmen of opposition political parties, under the aegis of Forum of Chairmen of Nigeria Political Parties, disagreed with the PDP on the call just as they kicked against the party’s position on the efficacy of the smart card reader used at the polls.
Chairman of the forum and National Chairman of National Unity Party, Chief Perry Opara, in a statement, Sunday, on behalf of the group, insisted that the PDP’s position was not only in bad faith but did not also represent the forum.
The statement read in part: “It is clear to even less political minds that the smart card reader’s efficacy has been politically and judicially neutralised and it must be mentioned that this was largely done by members of the PDP who argued before the Supreme Court against its relevance in relation to the voter register.
“The Supreme Court only agreed with the arguments of the PDP and therefore neutralised the smart card reader.
“The PDP should therefore not run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. The PDP cannot be crying wolf now when it earlier celebrated the judgments which nullified the Card Readers as a victory for democracy.
“The position of the Supreme Court, which for now is the law makes the voter register the final proof of the accreditation of voters. Hence, making the record of the card reader inadmissible in court as proof of accreditation.
“The meaning of this is that even when only a few people turn out at three polling units on election day, thugs can hijack the materials, record humongous figures and are only required to tick the voter register and they are home and dry.
“PDP celebrated this position of the Supreme Court and should just keep quiet for now.
“We urge the PDP to show that it is serious with legislative interventions in our electoral systems by enjoining her members to lead the moves in the National Assembly for relevant amendments.
“PDP had the opportunity to reform the electoral system, they failed and when they left office, they used the Supreme Court to torpedo the little gains of the introduction of the Smart Card Reader which Nigeria had made.
“We call on all Nigerians to lend their voice and put pressure on their representatives in both chambers of the National Assembly to urgently pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill so that we can have e|ectronic transmission of votes, electronic transmission of accreditation figures from the card reader and possibly electronic voting so that thugs will not have a role in our electoral system since our security agencies have failed woefully to stop them from their unpatriotic trade.”