No going back on Feb polls –Jega

 THE Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),  Prof Attahiru Jega, has insisted that the 2015 general election will go on as planned.

Jega noted that the commission was working with an election timetable which was issued a year ago and was fully determined to implement thE timetable to the fullest.

He therefore noted that the commission at no time contemplated postponement of the general election.

Meanwhile, Jega has assured Nigerians that the commission will ensure that all registered voters get their Permanent Voter Cards before the February election.

Jega also maintained that there was no going back on the use of PVC in the elections, stressing that return to the use of the Temporary Voter Cards as being called for in some quarters will set the country and the commission backward.

He also announced that INEC has so far produced 50 million PVCs which, according to him, have been made available for collection out of the 68.8 million registered voters, with 30 million already collected.

Jega noted that the commission was aware of the ongoing anxiety in the country over the PVCs. He however assured the gathering that INEC would do everything possible to ensure that all the cards are distributed.

He also hinted that in the worst case scenario, the commission will distribute the cards until the eve of the presidential election.

Prof. Jega also listed Plateau, Katsina, Kano, FCT, Edo, Cross River, and Bayelsa as states with high number of complaints related to PVC distribution.

The INEC chairman spoke at a programme for mitigation of violence in election (MOVE) project launch organised by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Also in attendance was the President of the Court of Appeal, Justoce Zainab Bulkachuwa, and European Union (EU) first Secretary, Alan Munday.

He said: “A major source of electoral fraud in this country, is the manner in which politicians and\or their supporters either buy off voter cards or steal voter cards, which they give to other people rather than the true owners to go and vote for them on election day.

“ So we examined this when we were processing the voter cards and the law requires  INEC to produce permanent voter cards.

“Before 2011, we produced temporary voter cards because there was no enough time to produce PVC for everybody. Because of the authentication that would be carried out on the day of the elections, that Is why we don’t want to use TVCs because they cannot be read by card readers.

“So, we have done everything possible to test the integrity of both the card readers and the card, and we fill so confident that using them will put additional value to the integrity of the election process.

“So the key challenge is how can we ensure that on the election day nobody was disenfranchised. That any person who had registered would have his voter cards produced and made available to him or her so that they can participate in the election.

“We know that there is a lot of anxiety in the country now because the rate of collection of the cards is slow and because there are some of the cards we have not produced yet. But we are doing everything possible to ensure that before the end of this month, all the cards are produced and made available for people to collect them.

“The collection has also been a problem. There are millions of cards available for people to collect. We have given people up to 31st January to collect their cards. But if push comes to shove, we can distribute up till the eve of the election.“

Jega would not comment on the reported call by the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki that the commission should postpone the election, saying “I don’t want to comment on this. Like everybody, we read it in the papers. I myself, many things have been attributed to me which I know I didn’t say. So until I can confirm and get clarification, it will be premature for me at this public event to start saying anything.

“In any case, anything I communicate is the commissions position and the commission has not discussed this matter and taken a position on it. So I want to be more patient on this. I cannot comment on this for now.”

Jega also castigated the advert placed in some national newspapers by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, urging the media to act responsibly.

He stressed that the media should be able to reject some advertorials when the message is capable of inciting or causing provocation among the people.

He said: “There is a consensus on non-violence. Newspapers should exercise self censorship; not to take money and just put anything that is given to them. They have to be careful and ask, ‘If we put this message, what would be the negative implication of it in terms of Provokating people or inciting violence?’

“There are so many things that the media can do. Press freedom is absolutely necessary and there is nothing anybody can do to infringe on that right.

Post a Comment