Wednesday, March 4, 2015 10:27 pm
The Coalition for Democratic Nigeria, CDN, has asked the Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, to humbly resign if he cannot guarantee that all eligible voters would exercise their voting rights in March and April this year when the general elections are expected to hold.
Coordinator of the group, Dr. Adegbola Dominic, said in a statement that the Jega should allow for the use of Temporary Voters Cards (TVCs) for those unable to get their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) owing to INEC’s shoddy preparation.
The group said it is not interested in Jega’s removal as INEC boss but worried over the fate of millions of Nigerians who are yet to collect their PVCs, the only criteria for voting in the elections.
The statement read: “in a couple of days, it will be 8 March, the last day set by INEC for the collection of Permanent Voters Cards.
“However, millions of Nigerians are still milling around, back and forth INEC collection centres in search of their PVCs which have proved intractable. And it is unlikely that this state of affairs can be reversed by 8 March 2015, or even beyond.
“Meanwhile, INEC has repeatedly updated the nation with percentage figures of distribution and collection of PVCs, which it put at 78.9 percent in the last instance.
“This still leaves about 14million Nigerians potentially disenfranchised. This is absolutely unacceptable.
“Percentages could be relevant perhaps when considering voter-turn out. However for any election to be credible, it must be transparently free and fair, with all eligible voters freely exercising their franchise as it happened in 2011 general elections and in the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states under the watch of Prof Jega- 100 percent of them, not 78.9 percent.
“Eligible voters are all those whose names are in the INEC voters register and possess the genuine voter’s cards, whether permanent or temporary.
“Millions of PVCs have either been stolen or misplaced by INEC or distributed to wrong places, or collected by people other than the owners or not supplied, or not even printed yet.
“What we expect INEC to be updating us on now more importantly is what steps it is taking to ensure that these millions of eligible Nigerians who have no PVCs are able to exercise their franchise on the voting day.
“We support the use of PVCs and card readers if they function properly because it will help to detect fraud during the voting exercise.”
Continuing, the statement said: “it should be noted that the purpose of using these devices is to ensure that the results reflect the true choice of the voters. So of what benefit will they be if, at the same time, they deprive the people of the right to even make a choice in the first place.
“The Voters Register is the most important screening instrument that is used during the voting process. Fortunately the INEC has cleared up the register by removing cases of underage and multiple registrations, fake names etc. In fact all the data used in the PVCs and card readers are generated from the register.
“The register stood and passed the test in previous elections when there were no PVCs and card readers. It can do so again. We therefore align ourselves with those who have properly advised INEC to allow the use of the PVCs and the card readers for those who have PVCs, and the use of the TVCs for those who do not have PVCs.
“For emphasis, our stand is that all those who are eligible to vote must be able to do so. This is the acceptable basic minimum. We are not here advocating the removal of the INEC chairman.
“However, if Prof. Jega cannot guarantee this acceptable minimum, he should please step aside for somebody else who will do it. Prof. Jega is a man of honour, and he may want to take advantage of his timely terminal leave to make this sacrifice for Nigeria.”