The controversy over the use of card reader electronic device for the conduct of the general elections scheduled for March 28 and April 11 thickened on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 with 15 political parties and 5 presidential candidates threatening to pull out of the exercise if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) goes ahead with it.
Addressing Journalists in Abuja, the parties said the concept of using card readers for this coming elections as being planned by INEC, has a lot of implications which may negatively impact on the conduct of a credible, free and fair elections on March 28 and April 11.
The Spokesman of the political parties and national chairman of the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) Dr Onwubuya .A. Break forth, said first drawback, is that this device is relatively a new technology that has not been tested or tried in a kind of mock election or previous formal elections prio to this time.
“Therefore, we the concerned group of leaders of political parties, presidential candidates, governorship and National Assembly candidates, hereby request INEC to stop forthwith, the proposed use of the card reader for this March 28 and April 11general elections or we may consider boycotting the election,” he said.
Break-forth argued that delaying the introduction the card reader device would enable the nation and the electoral umpire itself, to properly ascertain its workability and efficiency in the conduct of the real general elections.
According to the party chief, the consequences of the use of card reader, which is time-bound is most likely lead to manipulation and would result in the massive rigging of the election and ultimately disenfranchise bonafide Nigerian voters.
He said the move by INEC will amount to subjecting the general election to a mere trial and error affair should the card reader fails to live up to expectations.
“Moreover, if the card reader should develop some technical problems, there is a possibility that the consequences of such development would affect about 40 (forty) or 50 (fifty) percent of the polling booths nationwide.
“Because of the tendency of the card reader device to develop some technical fault any time during the voters accreditation process, that was the reason why all the Political Parties agreed with INEC recently, that the election should be postponed in polling booths where a substantial number of card reader defaults were recorded because it would disrupt the entire election process.
“As major stakeholders in this election process, we suggest that the easiest method of accreditation and verification of PVS, should be for INEC to use manual confirmation of the pictures and particulars or data of the PVC holders to ensure that it corresponds with the voters register with the electoral officers in the polling units and in front of the party agents. This way, it will minimize the obvious chances of voters disenfranchisement.
“We the stakeholders are not saying that an improved and faster technology should not be used to achieve development in the electoral process, but it should not be in the general elections. The PVCs have already solved a lot of these problems.
“We also want INEC to respond to this emergency and also within 24 hours, approve our request because time is of the essence. This positive response is necessary so that we would be able to meet the demands of our party members and majority of the Nigerian voters who have expressed great anxiety and concern over this matter.
“Since Prof Attahiru Jega has shown lack of professionalism and good judgement in his actions so far in the conduct of the 2015 elections and since he has about three months to the end of his tenure as INEC Chairman, we the stakeholders urge him to quietly consider proceeding on terminal leave so that a more competent person can handle the current election process”.
Three of the political parties leaders who signed the statement unbehalf of the parties include, the national chairman of the MEGA Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), Prince Dare Falade, Presidential Candidate , Peoples Party of Nigeria, (PPN), Prince Dr Kelvin Chinedu Opumu Alagoa and Dr. Rafiu Salau of Alliance for Democracy (AD).