Sola Ojo, Kaduna
As the citizens of Kaduna move to elect their representatives into counselor and chairmanship offices, the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) has said only voters with Permanent Voters Card (PVC) would be allowed to vote come May 12.
Head, Voters Education, SIECOM, John Bulus, who stated this shortly after a dialogue with political stakeholders in Kaduna over the weekend noted that temporary voters card (TVC) could not give expected results because the Commission would be using smart card readers during the election.
“If we are talking about credibility of the election, we need to accredit the real voters and the only way to do that is to use the PVC.
“Temporary voters card cannot give us what we want because we are using smart card reader. This is supposed to give us all the information we need about the voter. So, no PVC, no voting”, Bulus restated.
But in a reaction, Chairman of Labour Party and Conference of Nigerian Political Party (CNPP), Umar ibrahim Mairakumi said, the electoral laws agreed that those with TVC can take part in the election.
“SIECOM is behaving as if its confused. To me, they have not put their house in order, otherwise they will not come to the public to ridicule themselves. Because, I wonder why they should come here and tell us that if you don’t have PVC you cannot vote,” Mairakumi complained.
“What did the law say? The law said if you have a voters card [you can vote], and that is why we are saying people with TVC should be allowed to vote.
“We have so many issues concerning the local government elections. For example, with this recession INEC is saying a counsellor [seat costs] N480,000. This is too much. This payment is extortion.
“Today, INEC is saying they have more than 200,000 additional voters in Kaduna state who are holding the TVC; and in the law there is no where that it is stated that until you have the PVC you cannot vote. You are to have voters card, that is what the law said.
“So, what I can tell you is that the opposition is sidelined and we are not been carried along in whatever government is doing, and that is why you can see that, even within the ruling APC, everything is in shambles with a lot of crisis. So for us we are just watching them. But we have been advising them on what to do. For us, we are maintaining the peace.
“But still we see compromise with the SIECOM, because in the guidelines given to us, primaries are supposed to end on the 27 of March. But APC conducted its chairmanship primaries on the 29 of March. So what can you say about that?
“We want the APC disqualified because they were unable to meet the deadline given to them. We were not given any reason because if it is my party don’t you think they will disqualify us?” he asked.
This did not came to SIECOM as a surprise based on the response given by John Bulus:
“To me what they have raised were not allegations. Political parties are one of our main stakeholders. Our role is to conduct elections and the political parties present the candidates.
“So whatever issues they have raised, we have responded adequately. There are issues, but at the end of the matter we all understood ourselves, that there are issues we need to look at and some they need to readdress.
“On the primaries, I don’t know whether it is APC, but what I know is that a forum of political parties wrote to the Commission asking for extension of time to complete their process and it was granted.
“As far as we are concerned, it has not affected our schedule in any way. For example, if the closing date for primaries was March 27 and they are asking for three days, it has not reached the time for the election so there is nothing wrong. It’s just for us to consider them because they had a need and they approached us to assist. So I don’t think that should be an issue, inasmuch as it is within our power,” Bulus said.
Earlier, Executive Director, Legal Awareness for Nigeria Women (LEADS-NIG), the organiser of the dialogue, Barr. Rebecca Sako-John, said her organisation with support from Christian Aid Nigeria under Voice to the People (V2P) project in Kaduna State, brought critical stakeholders together for the purpose of a peaceful Local Government election.