“At N143 billion, it is safe to say that more than enough funds were appropriated for the INEC to acquire and distribute Smart Card Readers”
Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Former vice president Atiku Abubakar has expressed concerns over the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use incident forms in the conduct of next month’s general elections.
Atiku, who is also the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, yesterday, said the latest decision of the electoral commission, on the incident forms, is contrary to its earlier promise that only the Smart Card Readers and Permanent Voter Card (PVC) will be used for the conduct of the polls.
The former vice president while insisting that only the Smart Card Readers should be used noted that anything short of that will mean that INEC wants to toe “the line of President Muhammadu Buhari, who thrice refused to sign the amended Electoral Act, for fear of the use of card readers, which would prevent rigging by desperate power mongers.”
He noted that data from the 2015 presidential election indicated that 75 percent of the almost 14 million people who voted without biometric accreditation were linked to President Buhari.
According to him, “there are no reliable and accurate means of knowing who those voters were and whether they were genuine voters or sham voters. This disproportionate number of voters who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015 affected the integrity of those elections and we hold the INEC to its oft-repeated promise not to use anything but the Smart Card Readers and PVCs for the 2019 elections.
“We know that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has been desperate to avoid the use of Smart Card Readers and PVCs for the 2019 elections and the reported volte face by the INEC can only raise concerns about the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau.”
Atiku recalled that at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room National Stakeholders’ Forum on Elections held on December 10, 2018, in Abuja, the INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu had assured that the card readers will be deployed for the conduct of next month’s poll.
“Our question is this – what has changed between December 10, 2018 and today? Has Professor Mahmood Yakubu caved into pressures from anti-democratic forces?
“At N143 billion, it is safe to say that more than enough funds were appropriated for the INEC to acquire and distribute Smart Card Readers, as such there is no reason for this 180 degree turn.
“The job of the INEC is to give Nigerians a level playing field and an election that reflects the will of the people and not that of their oppressors. These reports do not incite hope. Not at all.
“We once again want to sound the alarm that only the strict use of Smart Card Readers and PVCs can guarantee free, fair and credible elections that will be accepted by Nigerians and the international community,” Atiku stated.