Saturday, November 8, 2014 8:57 pm
*Less than 10 per cent of voters served, says Amosun
*Our Failure is a National Calamity – INEC Commissioner
Abiodun Onafuye/ AbeokutaIndependent National Electoral Commission, INEC has said that the agency’s failure over the distribution of the Permanent Voters Card, PVC will amount to a national calamity and will diminish the integrity of the Commission, as complaints mount in Ogun state, western Nigeria that many registered voters are yet to get the permanent cards.
INEC Commissioner for the Southwest, Prof. Lai Olorode however appealed to the people to be patient as the commission will sort things out, soon.
He spoke while responding to the complaints of the State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, who stormed the INEC office with many complaints from every nook and cranny of the State over the ongoing exercise.
Olorode expressed gratitude to the governor for his civil handling of the project and praised him for being among the few
State governors, who have been supportive of the ongoing project.
According to the INEC Commissioner, “ Let me appeal to the people to be patient with us. We want to thank His Excellency, Ibikunle Amosun,
he is being very civil about the whole project. It is a national project, not about Amosun, not about southwest, it is a national project and if we fail,it is a national calamity and it will tell on the entire country. The image of the country will be affected by our failure.
“Let me say this, there is no way that INEC,as a Commission, as a national institution could have, looking at what it was able to do in 2011. We have raised the bar of electoral integrity in this country, the credibility of the 2011 election is there, we have not had it so good before. There is no way, we would now embark on deliberate exercise to bring down a Commission risen to become a recognised global institution to a mockery. We know the consequences of an election going under.
“I want to assure the good people of Ogun State that every eligible voter will have to get his or her card before the election. Of course, it is interesting to note that we have the same hiccups in Osun, we did have in Ekiti State too and at the end of the election, you people confirmed the credibility of the election in both States,” Olorode stated.
The former University Don shredded the rumours about a possible INEC plan to sabotage the election in the state:
“ Talking of sabotage, it is not in existence, it could be in the mind of some people, but it is not so.It may be those who are planning to cause havoc during the election of 2015, it is not in INEC agenda at all.
“There is no agenda of sabotage in INEC. Who do you sabotage? How do you know who is to be the governor, who is to be the President? You
cannot pre-empt that, that can only be determined by the people when they have their cards and vote for their choice candidates.
“And how do you raise the bar of election if you don’t allow people to get their voters cards and perform their civic responsibility . We are
impressed with the turn out in Ogun State and we want you to be rest assured that every eligible voter in Ogun State and every part of
this country, will get their cards,” Olorode assured.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun had arrived the INEC office to meet Prof. Lai Olorode and the State Resident Electoral Commission, Mr Sam
Olumekun, after the governor left Sagamu, an unhappy man.
In Sagamu, residents in their thousands staged peaceful protests in all parts of the town, accusing INEC of sabotage ahead of the 2015 elections. The protesters carried placards with various inscription like: “Extension we want”, INEC, give us more time”, Don’t steal our rights, we need our cards to vote”, among others.
The governor declared that he was not happy with the whole situation and wondered why INEC failed to do its homework very well before fixing dates for the PVC distribution.
Amosun called for the extension of the exercise till Tuesday, saying that the last two days had been a wasteful one with no clear result.
He disclosed that less than 10 per cent of the people of the State have been able to get their cards after 48hours, adding that, with this
development, it shows clearly that there is terribly something that has gone wrong with the Commission.
“We have gone round the State and between yesterday and today, we have been to almost eight local governments in the State. With all the reports coming from all the 20 local governments, I am not happy with the exercise. Our people are not happy too, they have been agitated and restless.
“We are not the one that set the date, it is INEC and to complement them, we declared a work free day and today, which is the second
day,our people have not had it so good, which means, technically, we have wasted two days,which literally means that we have not started
yet in Ogun State. Only about 10% of our people have got the cards. There is a problem. We should take it that we are yet to start the
exercise in Ogun State.
“So, as it is now, we will be asking for an extension till Tuesday and tomorrow will be the beginning of that of ours in the State and the
last two days will be like doing necessary preparation for the exercise in the State.Our uniqueness, special status and closeness to
Lagos, all our border towns, we have a lot of new settlements which are coming up, no arrangement is made for them.In one of the areas,
Magboro, Arepo, Ayetor-Igbede along the Lagios axis, over 16,000 people in that area has no single polling booth.
“From 1.8million, just 1.4 million people were recognised and if about 500,000 to 600,000 are off, it shows something is terribly wrong.We
should not allow the insinuation of the people that maybe, INEC is trying to sabotage or do certain thing. I know that this is not a
deliberate thing, INEC is not out to disenfranchise our people. Whatever the challenges are, I do not believe that there is motive behind this.”
The INEC has promised to get back to the governor on his request for the extension. According to Professor Olorode: “The request is a policy and we can’t do that alone here, we have to get across to our headquarters for confirmation as the NYSC people we are using, we have to seek
permission from their boss. We promised to get back to your Excellency as quick as possible.”