Knocks on INEC over ‘failure’ of card readers
Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State challenged INEC to avail the Nigerian public the identities of the suppliers of the equipment as well as the cost of the contract.
Speaking to newsmen at his residence in Minna, the state capital shortly after casting his vote, Aliyu, who was a senatorial candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Niger East in the election, noted that making those details available to the public would enable them make informed judgment about the workability or otherwise of the equipment.
On a personal level, he declared that the equipment, rather than adding value to the whole electoral process, had succeeded in creating more panic in the system, lamenting that 16 years down the line, the Nigerian democracy had experienced several trial and error processes.
For Governor Aliyu, the card reader has not added value to the whole electoral process, instead, it has created some panic in the minds of the people. Though it did not take him long to be accredited, the governor, confirmed that he had to use all his 10 fingers before one was eventually accepted.
“For me, the process didn’t take long, but my 10 fingers had to be used before one of them got accepted by the machine. But I had thought that anything to be done must add value to what you are doing, I thought that was the concept of the card reader.
“I have received complaints already in some local governments where the card reader did not work, and we said they should follow what INEC had already said. Where it is not working, you can by pass it and other things, but up till today, I’m still not convinced that it has added any value to the situation.”
For me, the process didn’t take long, but my 10 fingers had to be used before one of them got accepted by the machine. But I had thought that anything to be done must add value to what you are doing, I thought that was the concept of the card reader
The governor expressed the need for INEC to begin early preparation for e-voting immediately after the April 11 elections so that the next round of elections in 2019 should not suffer this kind of embarrassment.
Also, Governor Aliyu would want the commission to tell Nigerians the status of the earlier claims by the Department of State Services about the alleged cloning of the Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) by some persons in Lagos, saying coming out clean by the commission would permanently lay to rest the conspiracy theory surrounding the PVCs.
“I’m very much concerned, when we are going to electronic voting, then we should start the process early enough, that is immediately after the April elections. We should not wait until it is six weeks to the election then you begin to introduce something new, that is not fair to the people and I would love to know the contractor and the amount of the contract that was awarded, for his do-called card reader, and then what happens to it after the elections. Is it going to be used now and discarded or will the information remain? Since what we have seen is called permanent voter’s card, that reader must also be permanent because that is where we have information about me.
“ I think we should be ready to deal with all these issues squarely, otherwise will be wasting a lot of resources unnecessarily. I believe that by now, after 16 years, we should be adding more, and not bringing new things into the system that we have not really been familiar with. After this election, I believe we should use the two weeks to correct whatever anomaly had been found and then by April 11, after that election, we must begin to talk about what will happen in 2019: is it electronic voting ?.
“The law says no electronic voting, but somebody issued the card reader and said it is only for accreditation. But when we say election, everything that has to do with it is part of that election. Alls these technicality, we must avoid them.”
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Hajia Asabe Asma’u Ahmed, at one of the polling units, said she was satisfied that after initial hiccups, INEC was able to get it right for people to exercise their franchise.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after casting her vote at the Uphill Polling Unit, where two former Nigerian military leaders, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar voted, the minister said, “After initial hiccups, they had to take card readers back to be re activated. For me, a number of people had issues. A number of people went through it for 10 to 12 times, but on the whole, quite a number of people have had their verifications done and the process is moving along very quickly.
“One of the good things is that somebody is taking note of the incidents, the incident in this case is the behavior of card readers. All the card readers, at every stage, had problems but on the whole, the card, in many cases, did not misbehave after the initial hiccups. I expect the vote itself to pass off peacefully.”
In Cross River State, a lawmaker has said the Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, should be made to face the consequences of failure of the card readers.
The House of Representatives member from Abi/ Yakurr Federal
Constituency of Cross River State, Mr. Bassey Ewa castigated the Jega, saying he should be blamed for the situation. Ewa, who spoke to newsmen at his country home in Ekori, Yakurr Local Government of Cross River State flayed the conduct of the exercise which he said was disappointing.
According to him, the INEC chairman has failed Nigerians because the card readers ought to have been duly tested to ascertain its functionality before being put to use nationwide. “Nigerians are ready to exercise their franchise, but let me say and say it very clear that we are disappointed in the way INEC and Jega have failed this country.
“I hope the international community will appreciate the concern earlier raised by some Nigerians on the use of the card reader that was never tried or tested in any election conducted in this country.
“This is unacceptable to us practicing politicians. What I have seen here touches at the very fabric of the existence of this country and should be frowned at by every Nigerian. Jega should be made to pay for the failure of this election.”