The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that it will maintain the use of card readers for the verification of voters during Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.
INEC disclosed this in a statement by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Augusta Ogakwu, on Monday.
The statement read: “The provision of the guidelines for the conduct of the 2015 general election which outlined what is to be done if a card reader fails and cannot be replaced by the commission within the specified time frame (i.e. reschedule the election to the next day) will be enforced.
“The relaxation of the guidelines on March 28 was only with respect to the Presidential and National Assembly election held on that date.
“The Commission has reviewed the operation of the card reader in the 28th March elections, identified the challenges and has taken adequate measure to address them.”
Accreditation of voters during the March 28 election drew mixed reactions as the incumbent President and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and the First Lady could not be accredited with the card reader. At his home town, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, President Jonathan’s card and that of his wife, Patience could not pass the process.
Channels Television correspondent, Chukwuma Onuekwusi reported that several card readers were tried but his card and that of his wife could not be read by three different card readers.
While President Jonathan urged all Nigerians to be patient with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians in different parts of the country had since urged INEC to review the use of the card reader, citing challenges faced during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, called the overall performance of the card reader device in the state ‘a disaster’, noting that his fingerprints could not be captured despite several attempts.
“Well, it was in my opinion a disaster at the early stages,” Obiano said during an interview on Channels Television’s special election programme, ‘Nigeria 2015’.
He explained that as at 10:30 on Saturday morning, INEC officials were absent at his polling unit, while the queue was more than a quarter of a mile long.
According to the governor, INEC officials arrived at noon following a call to the REC. Even after their arrival, the card reader failed to work.
“But before then, substantially everywhere, the comment I was getting was that the card reader wasn’t working. As a matter of fact, I received so many calls that I got so worried,” he said.
The governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, had also urged the commission to make another pronouncement on the use of the card reader for the governorship and National Assembly elections.
Jega On Card Reader Flop
However, there had been an indication that the faith of INEC in the card reader technology remained strong despite the challenges faced on election day.
INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, admitted that there were indeed challenges in the deployment of the card readers but the challenges were not significant enough to affect the overall success of the elections.
In an interview with Channels Television about 24 hours after the presidential elections, he said: “From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.
“But because we just wanted to ensure that Nigerians who have been patient in this process have an opportunity to exercise their rights and because the numbers are relatively insignificant, that’s why we thought it was necessary to do an addendum to the guidelines and allow those people to be able to vote once they can be physically authenticated and verified.”