•We can’t jettison our own initiative, it says
•There’s no going back on BVAS —INEC
•Says reports that we won’t use BVAS, fake news
•Notes poll will be watershed in Nigeria’s history
By Henry Umoru & Omeiza Ajayi
NATIONAL Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, has disclaimed reports that he was opposed to the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Results Viewing Portal, IReV, for next year’s general elections.
At a news conference in Abuja,yesterday, Adamu said he was only expressing reservations about the challenges of electricity supply and irregular telecommunication signals in outlining voting districts of the country.
At a meeting with the pre-election delegation of the Commonwealth Election Observation Mission on Wednesday in Abuja, Senator Adamu had said: “First, I was privileged to serve as a Senator. Our concern is how ready are we to deploy some of these technologies as regards transmission because we are taking a major step in transmitting election results in real time.
“To transmit results, every part of the nation Nigeria, I am not sure that the network covers it. I know that even in parts of Abuja, there is no network and we have from now till February when in substantial parts of the country there is no electricity?
“INEC must assure us 100 percent that as and when due in transmitting results, they are ready because they spoke about recharging batteries but we had in previous elections when it said it could not recharge.”
At the same meeting, National Organizing Secretary of the party, Ambassador Suleiman Argungu had also said the new technology may not work in his home state, Kebbi.
I didn’t oppose BVAS, IreV; I only expressed concern over INEC readiness to deploy
However, Adamu, yesterday, said he was grossly misquoted.
Represented by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr Felix Morka, he said: “You would recall that on Wednesday, the National Chairman of our party and some members of the National Working Committee, NWC, hosted a delegation from the Commonwealth pre-election mission to discuss with the party regarding preparations that the country is making for next year’s general election.
“In the course of that meeting, the national chairman responded to a couple of questions asked by the delegation and one of them had to do with the state of preparedness of the country, the party and INEC to conduct next year’s election.
“In his response to one of those questions especially on the one regarding the preparedness for the election, the national chairman noted with respect to the deployment of new technologies that while INEC has taken these bold steps to put in place these technologies, he simply tasked INEC to ensure that they are able to bridge all of the gaps that may be created by both electricity and telecommunication challenges especially in outlying voting districts of the country. I was in the meeting and I heard the context in which he was speaking but unfortunately, this morning we read reports that the national chairman was averse to deployment of BVAS and IReV. That was a gross misstatement of what the national chairman said.”
In a follow up statement to back the position of the party, Morka said “media reports that Chairman Adamu kicked against INEC’s decision to deploy BVAS and electronic transmission of results is patently false, and constitutes an unfair misrepresentation of the National Chairman’s comments.
“To be clear, Chairman Adamu did not kick against the deployment of BVAS or electronic transmission of results as erroneously reported by sections of the media.
“The APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari midwived the successful reform of the Electoral Act, the introduction of BVAS among other technological innovations, and has superintended the conduct of credible, free, fair and transparent elections in Edo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states.
“Our party and government remain committed to the highest levels of electoral transparency and democratic consolidation in our country.”
We’re not afraid
Also, the APC Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, expressed its readiness for the election, saying it is not afraid of the deployment of BVAS or any new technology.“Director APC PCC National Youth Mobilization, North Central, Hon. Mike Msuaan said APC has done a lot of mobilization to the effect that if elections were conducted today, it would deliver 70 percent of the total votes cast to its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
On the issue of electronic transmission of election results and whether the APC was afraid of new technologies, he said: “Why should the APC be afraid of BVAS and electronic transfer of results when the youths are strongly behind us? Why should we be afraid? I told you that if election is conducted tomorrow we are going to win. They are the ones running after us. We have already given them more than 30 percent gap ahead and by tomorrow if elections are conducted we would give them more than 50 percent.
“We are very comfortable with the arrangements made by INEC. We are going to win with that because that has taken care of the manipulation of those who want to do yahoo yahoo on Election Day.”
No going back on BVAS —INEC
Meanwhile, INEC has said any news that it planned to stop the deployment of the BVAS and IReV should be considered by Nigerians as fake news, insisting there is no going back on their usage.
In his goodwill message, yesterday, in Abuja at the start of a 2-Day capacity building for journalists and CSOs on conflict-sensitive reporting during the 2023 general election and countering fake news for the North Central zone, the Director of Voters Education and Publicity of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mr Victor Aluko, said news that INEC would not use BVAS is fake news, adding that the commission is guided by the principles of one man, one vote.
According to him, any news about threat to remove the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and that there will be no electronic transmission of results should all be considered as fake news.
He said the commission was preparing for no less than 70 per cent turnout, just like Ghana did, stressing that the 2023 elections was going to be the mother of all elections.
Aluko, who also noted that 2023 elections would be a watershed in the history of Nigeria, said: “Let me assure you that news that INEC will not use Bimodal Voters Accreditation System is fake news and that the commission is guided by the principles of one man one vote.
”Any news about threats to remove the INEC Chairman is fake news; 2023 elections will be a watershed in the history of Nigeria.”
The Capacity building programme was organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, and the INEC in conjunction with the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ.
Earlier in his keynote presentation on the Role of Media in the Conduct of Peaceful Elections, the National President of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, said that the inability of other stakeholders in the media industry to agree with the NUJ on some aspects to be inserted in the Code of Ethics for Journalism practice in the country had led to the delay in the release of the document.
Isiguzo, who assured journalists that the revised version of the document would give them some measure of protection, expressed confidence that before long, the NUJ and stakeholders would tie all loose ends and the document would be finally released.
He said: “The NUJ, the Guild of Editors, Newspapers Proprietors of Nigeria, NPAN, and Guild of Corporate Online Publishers of Nigeria, GOCOP, and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, among others, all gathered and said there was need to design a framework for media practice in the country.
“Last week, we adopted a substantial part of this document; one, talks about having an ombudsman that will be able to moderate media activities in the country and of course a revised Code of Ethics for media practice for journalists in the country.”