WADOO!!NEWS: PDP govs kick as INEC insists on card readers
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday endorsed last weekend’s trial run on the card readers and resolved to use the device for the forthcoming general elections.
The INEC stance nonetheless, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors were last night locked in a meeting in Lagos where they were articulating strong objections to the use of the device.
The PDP governors, who had erstwhile deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George and other stalwarts in attendance at the meeting, Vanguard learnt, were also raising issues on the term of INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who was present, canvassed at the beginning of the meeting that Jega should leave office three months to the end of his tenure in accordance with public service rules.
The endorsement of the card reader was given at a meeting of the 12 national commissioners of the commission at INEC headquarters in Abuja. The meeting was presided over by INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Yesterday’s meeting came ahead of further preparatory meetings with the 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, who are in charge of the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.
The use of the card reader had divided the political class with the two major political parties taking divergent positions on the device. INEC claims the cards would stop multiple voting by ensuring that only possessors of the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, can vote at voting points where the PVCs are programmed to.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had following last Saturday’s trial run, expressed reservations, noting difficulties in the accreditation through the failure of the biometric confirmation among some voters.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, on its part said it was satisfied with the device and urged the commission to go ahead with the use of the card readers.
The issue, Vanguard learnt, came up at the meeting of the national commissioners and at the end it was resolved that INEC should forge ahead with the use of the device.
A source at the commission, who pleaded anonymity, told Vanguard that “the National Commissioners have decided to stick with the card reader following the huge success the machine recorded during the field test in some 12 states across the country last Saturday.”
A source equally said that the prospects of going back was now unthinkable as the commission had now crossed the bridge having also collected the Temporary Voter Cards from registered voters.
Tomorrow’s RECs meeting
Tomorrow’s meeting of the RECs with Jega and the national commissioners will take another look at the complaints generated during the trial run.
A source said: “There is a huge possibility that the commission will allow voters whose fingerprints are not read by the device to vote, but such people will fill the incident form.”
Tomorrow’s meeting of the RECs would also appraise the distribution and collection of PVCs. The Election Management Body, EMB, had extended the distribution and collection of the cards till March 22.
On the newly registered YDP
The meeting is also expected to deliberate on the controversy arising from the forced registration of the Young Democratic Party, YDP. The newly registered party had recently demanded its inclusion in the ballot papers following a court order that compelled the commission to register it and include it as a participant in the forthcoming elections.
The demand, sources disclosed, would inevitably lead to the postponement of the elections given the fact that the ballot papers had been printed prior to the registration of the party.
One of the options being canvassed to INEC is to appeal the judgment of the court to register the new party. The commission, Vanguard, learnt is expected to come up with a definite pronouncement on the way out of the emerging crisis.
Tomorrow’s meeting which was earlier scheduled for last week was postponed because the commission decided to wait till the conduct of the mock accreditation exercise which was meant to test the functionality of the card reader machines that is to be used to conduct the elections.
PDP govs meet to strategise
Governors present at the meeting which was holding at the Eko Hotel and Suites at press time were Governors Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Jonah Jang (Plateau), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) and Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo).
Also present were Mukthar Yero (Kaduna), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and the party’s governorship candidate in Lagos State, Jimmy Agbaje.
Speaking to newsmen ahead of the meeting, Governor Akpabio, chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, said the card reader had proved to be ineffective and a burden to the accreditation process.
“We came here to brainstorm on how to win the election and how to take Southern Nigeria. We expect to win on the first ballot. PDP cannot panic, we have presence in over 120,000 polling units and PDP is a national party,” Governor Akpabio said before the meeting entered into closed session.
He said: “We are going to discuss all issues. Unlike others, we have a responsibility to Nigerians. It is our responsibility, we will look at all the issues bordering on the election. Many have not received PVCs. Would you allow 80 percent to be disenfranchised?
“If the election had been held, there would have been serious opposition. We have a responsibility to ensure stability. Even the press did not receive their PVCs. Supposing only 22 per cent voted, would the election have been credible? We want to discuss and strategise to ensure we have free and fair elections.”
Sources also disclosed that the governors were going to raise strong objections to the card readers in closed session.
Governor Jang, speaking in that direction, flayed INEC for not test running the device in last year’s governorship election in Osun and Ekiti States.
Governor Aliyu in his perspective said Jega’s stay in INEC should follow public service rules which entails officers going on a three month pre-retirement leave.
Jega’s term took effect from July 1, 2010 and his term is expected to end on June 30, 2015.