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INEC to use card readers in 2015, says Jega

Published by The Nation on Fri, 22 Aug 2014

Politicians planning to rig the 2015 elections by buying voter cards should forget it. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will use card readers to detect impersonation at the polling units, Chairman Attahiru Jega has said.Prof. Jega explained that on election day, the polling officer will ask the presenter of a Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to put his fingers on the machine for authentication and verification. If it is valid, the machine will say verified; if not, it will say unverified. The INEC boss said if the machine says not verified and such a person is allowed to vote, you cannot blame the Commission for that.He said: If you buy voter cards you cant use them on voting day because the mechanism we are putting in place in every polling unit will detect fraud and whoever that is involved will be arrested on the spot for electoral fraud and prosecuted.Jega spoke yesterday at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) where he delivered a lecture: Stakeholders and the electoral process in Nigeria. It was organised by the Department of Sociology.The INEC chief said to ensure 100 per cent verification and authentication in the 2015 elections, the commission had started issuing registered voters with chip-based PVCs which will be swiped by the card readers. We have distributed the cards in 24 states till date while distribution will take place in outstanding states under the third phase of the programme at a date to be announced by the commission, he said.The INEC boss described the August 9 Osun State governorship poll as the best election so far. He said the commission was not relenting on its performance by tasking ourselves that the Adamawa State gubernatorial election coming up in October should be the best.In preparation for the 2015 general elections, Jega said: The consolidation and de-duplication of the biometric register of voters has been completed, as a result of which the register of voters now has the tremendous integrity-much better than the one with which the 2011 elections were conducted. Indeed, our register compares favourably with any register of voters on the African continent.He said the commission had submitted recommendations for improvements to the legal framework on the Electoral Act and the Constitution to the National Assembly.His words: An Election Risk Management Tool, designed with support from the African Union (AU) and International IDEA, has been deployed ahead of 2015 to enable the commission to gather information about risk factors associated with elections, be able to analyse them and deploy effective measures to contain or mitigate those factors, towards ensuring peaceful and violence-free elections.All guidelines and regulations on the electoral process are being revised while discussion has commenced with legal experts across the country on how to enact and gazette them.Jega also spoke on the challenges ahead of 2015 elections. He said insecurity was one of the most depressing epithets of elections in Nigeria. The heat and passion associated with elections in the country often make elections appear like war, he observed. Several security threats now characterise the electoral process. These include physical attacks on INEC staff and facilities, attacks on security personnel on election duty, misuse of security orderlies by politicians, attacks on political opponents, cyber- attacks targeting INECs data bases, especially the register voters, violence at campaigns, intimidation of voters, snatching and destruction of election materials, the INEC boss said.He said the second challenge facing the Commission is adequate funding of the elections. Our estimate is that the cost of election per voter, which is an international standard for viewing the cost of elections, is coming down in Nigeria. We project that for the 2015 elections, this would come further down by almost $1- from $8 in 2011 to $7.99, representing almost 10% drop. This compares favourably with some other African countries.Another key challenge facing the electoral process, the INEC Chairman said, is widespread absence of moderation among politicians. Jega said the Commission remain deeply concerned about growing conflicts within the party.At the occasion were the UNILAG Vice Chancellor represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics and Research), Professor Babajide Alo, Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University (LASU), Professor John Obafunwa, Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr Perry Calderwood and political parties representatives.]]>
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