PDP, APC trade words over use of card reader for polls
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday denied being opposed to the use of card reader by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the forthcoming general elections, but insisted that the machines should be tested before the polls.
Also Thursday, two PDP governors, Babangida Aliyu (Niger State) and Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti State) expressed their reservations about the insistence by INEC and the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the card reader should be used at the polls.
The APC had alleged that “the PDP’s public avowal to oppose the use of card readers in this month’s rescheduled election has shown the accuracy of the APC’s accusations that the ruling party is doing all in its powers to either prevent the election from holding or to rig it.”
Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, in an interview in Abuja, declared:
“PDP is not against the use of the card reader for the elections, the position of the PDP has been that INEC should test-run them in order to ensure that they are in perfect condition to avoid problems.
“We believe that we don’t go into such crucial elections with trial and error arrangement, the commission must test-run them and put them in perfection.
“The main opposition, APC, and its leaders panic, and that is why they are making series of false claims and peddling unfounded rumour around in order to cause confusion in the land ahead of the general elections. Nigerians and the international community should beware of these propaganda by the APC.”
Secodus said that PDP as the major stakeholder in the general elections believe in the ability of Prof. Attahiru Jega-led INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections. PDP has nothing to fear ahead of the elections as it is sure of total victory at the polls.”
“PDP is fully ready for the March 28 and April 11 general elections, we are fully on ground to win at the polls. We are mobilising the party’s structures right from the polling units to the wards, the local governments to the states and the zones. As we speak, we are on ground in the 9,572 wards across the country, campaigning from door to door, house to house. We have well established offices in all the wards in line with our party’s constitution, we are just not campaigning on the pages of the newspapers, we are in the 774 local governments, we are in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja. If you put all these structures together, you will see why I am so confident that we will win the elections,” he declared.
“We will even win in the APC controlled states like Zamfara, the same thing will happen in Rivers. We lost Ekiti State, we have taken it back now so, we are not afraid of any method to be used by the INEC for the conduct of the elections once the commission follows due process.”
Governor Aliyu said the general fear about the use of card reader might be due to the worry that majority of the people could be disenfranchised if INEC insists on using the machines.
Speaking with State House correspondents in Abuja yesterday, the governor said given the experience of Nigerians with the identity card registration, the possibility of the failure of the system could not be ruled out. He cited his personal experience during the registration for identity card, where it took about one and a hour before he was able to pull through. “The concern of many people is that the card reader may have difficulties particularly in the rural areas but we have been told that if they are charged, they will be okay. The stand of many of the political parties is that where you have difficulties, what happens. I remember when they were registering me for the national identity card.
“ For me alone, it took about one hour. Suppose there are difficulties in the polling units where you have 500 people and it takes the card reader a long time to do. I understand INEC is going to conduct elementary ways of finding out whether that is possible. The moment the parties are convinced, I think it will be okay.”
Fayose alleged that APC is known for its penchant for promoting confusion and division in Nigeria for political gain even at the expense of the well being and unity of the country.
He explained that in as much as the usage of the card reader is noble, the preparation of INEC for it has been very poor which is believed to be a conspiracy between the electoral body and APC on the card reader.
Fayose quoted Jega to have said that the card reader’s battery can go flat at most five hour which means that unless there is alternative power supply, the machine will be rendered useless after the battery has gone flat.
The Ekiti governor queried: “The question now is that will the INEC provide power generators in each of the poling unit in the whole country so that by the time the battery is down the electoral officers could switch to the alternative power? Without this, the introduction of the card reader is nonsense”.
The governor also said that Nigerians should know that INEC has never hidden the fact that the card reader is internet-based in delivery, and considering the fact that most of the Nigerian towns and villages are not fixed with internet, that means that the card can not deliver until when it gets to where there is internet to deliver its result. It means that the usage would be a failure because a lot of contradictory information would have dealt havoc on the entire exercise before the card reader can deliver its results.”
Fayose stressed that when the election in Ekiti and Osun states were conducted, the INEC didn’t use the card reader, APC did not cry wolf, so also when the governorship elections in Anambra and Edo states were conducted without card reader, APC didn’t raise a foot, but now that they know there is no way their presidential candidate can win without rigging, they want Nigerians to see sense in the usage of card reader that has never been tested or acknowledged to be free from manipulation.
“I can say boldly that the leadership of APC has hidden agenda in the usage of the card reader that is why their clamour for it has been so vociferous when they know abinitio that there is no way their patty can win this election.
“They are looking for preemptive excuses for violence during and after the election so that they can gain some undue sympathy, whereas the usage of the card reader is not important to the election as the availability of security which they campaigned against like hell on earth.”
APC, in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described as very curious the fact that the PDP that allegedly rushed to the press to deny the APC’sclaims quickly turned around to confirm them.
‘’At the press conference we addressed on Wednesday, which rattled the PDP and the Jonathan administration so much, we listed the conditionalities of the PDP/Jonathan administration for holding the election: No PVCs, No Card Readers, No Jega and the fact that they want the military deployed to harass and intimidate voters.
‘’We mentioned ‘Card Readers’ at least three times during the press conference, and said they (PDP/Jonathan Administration are doing everything possible to sabotage the machine and prevent its use.
‘’Both the spokesmen for the PDP and the Jonathan Campaign Organization rushed to the press to deny any such ‘reprehensible’ plan. But a few hours later, the spokesman for the campaign organization told an incredulous country that they would oppose the use of card reader, apparently after the spokesmen were overruled by their party. Obviously, these men are outsiders in their own party and
it is now obvious that the opposition knows more about the inner workings of their party than they do,’’ it said.
APC said that “in an apparently-choreographed show, some 15 portfolio political parties called a press conference to also announce that they will oppose the use of the card reader, vowing to boycott the elections and use a legal process to prevent the use of the machine.”
The party said “these syndicated threats are the latest indications of the mortal fear in the corridors of power about the machine that has now become the nemesis of election riggers and manipulators worldwide.” It said contrary to the claim by the PDP, Nigerians are ready for a free, fair and credible elections to be made possible by the use of the card reader, and will massively resist any move to dump the machine.
‘’Nigerians have sacrificed all they can to obtain their PVCs, which is now their most-prized possession. They have also hailed the plan by INEC to use the card reader to give Nigeria credible polls. Only dishonest politicians, those who plan to rig, those who have engaged in a massive purchase of PVCs and those who have something to hide are opposed to the use of the machine.’’
The APC statement said for the avoidance of doubt, “our party is ready for any tool, including the card reader, that will ensure that the votes of Nigerians will count in the forthcoming election. In this regard, we sincerely hope that the nationwide tests of the machine to be carried out this week by INEC will not be sabotaged by those opposed to it.
“The card reader has been demonstrated to work, including at the Senate, and no one must come out to tell Nigerians anything to the contrary.”
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