The Punch reports that there were revelations in Abuja on Monday on why President Goodluck Jonathan and the national leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party were angry with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega. A week-long investigation by our correspondent in Abuja showed that the President and his party are not happy with Jega over his insistence that the commission would use the Permanent Voter Cards for the election.
The PVCs were used for the conduct of the governorship elections in both Ekiti and Osun states, which were won by the PDP and the All Progressives Congress respectively. Apart from this, the President and the party were also angry that the commission was going ahead with its decision to use card readers. This technology was however not used in both Ekiti and Osun states elections.
The commission has said that the card reader can only read PVC issued by it and that any person that shows up at the polling unit without a PVC or with a card not issued by INEC will not be able to vote. It was learnt that the Presidency and the ruling party were not totally against the use of the PVCs, but they were not happy with the use of card readers.
A worker in the Presidency who spoke with our correspondent on Sunday queried the insistence of INEC under the leadership of Jega to go ahead with the two items. He said:
“Now, what we are saying is that yes, the PVCs were used in both Ekiti and Osun governorship elections but the way and manner the PVCs are being distributed now is suspicious. Look at the figure of those who have collected from the northern part of the country and look at the figure from the southern part, where President Jonathan hails from”.
“If the election is going to be by ethnic sentiment alone, you will know that our President has been defeated already. So, that’s the reason. Look at Ogun and Lagos states, which we all know are politically sophisticated. Why are the electorates not picking their PVCs? We are worried.”
In terms of PVCs collection, figures released by the commission indicated that Ogun State is lagging behind among all the states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory. In the state, only 808,590 out of the 1,829,534 registered voters had collected their PVCs. This figure represents a mere 44.20 per cent. But the commission said that 1,387,401 PVCs had been delivered to the state.
Lagos State with 5,822,207 registered voters had recorded 63.44 per cent of the PVCs collection. This shows that 3,693,355 of the cards had been picked by their owners. But the commission said that 5,558,062 cards had been delivered for voters in the state. This means that there are 1,864,707 PVCs yet to be picked by their owners in the state.
When asked whether the refusal of the owners of the PVCs to pick them up could be attributed to Jega, the source said that the commission should embark on more enlightenment. On the issue of card readers, a member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that there was no way the machine would be effective in the area of accreditation of voters.
When this issue was raised before the commission, an explanatory note presented to our correspondent showed that accreditation of a voter using the card reader is expected to last for about 20 seconds.