Civil Society activists, under the aegis of Osun Civil Societies (OCSC) in Osun State have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rescind its decision not to use Voters Card Reader (VCR), a technology-based voter authentication system, in the forthcoming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States.
While speaking with journalists yesterday in Osogbo, the group led by its coordinator, Comrade Abiodun Agboola, called on all well meaning people to prevail on INEC to adopt the use of VCR for the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States to prevent irregularities and fraud as witnessed in past elections. Agboola added that INEC’s failure to respect the overwhelming wish of the masses as captured in his group’s demand might lead to the group calling out its members on a state-wide protest.
According to him, “We are on the side of the good people of Nigeria and indeed great people of Osun State. We are concerned about probity, transparency and accountability in our electioneering process. We are saying the Card Reader must be deployed if truly INEC intends to conduct free, fair and credible elections in the two States. Should INEC refuse to heed our demand, we will not hesitate to draw the attention of the international community to this matter”.
Agboola wondered that at a period when the whole world is embracing technology as means of conducting credible election, Nigeria’s electoral body is shying from the transparent process.
“Indeed, the whole world has come to the conclusion that heavy and appropriate deployment of technology cannot be divorced from conduct of credible elections devoid of rigging or manipulations; this is the main fact that compels us to lend our voice to the increasing demand for INEC to test-run the deployment of Voters Card Readers in the country with the forthcoming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States respectively, for we cannot toy with the future of the country, knowing full well the import rigging of the forthcoming elections”, he noted.
The civil society queried why INEC would do away with a Card Reader procured with people’s money, noting that the electoral body appeared to have hidden agenda and may be planning to deceive Nigerians, if it refuses to use the gadgets in Osun and Ekiti states’ elections.
“It is on good record that when a by-election in Delta State for senatorial seat was approaching, one of the INEC Resident Commissioners, Dr. Mike Igini, who held forth in Cross Rivers State came on air, precisely on Channels Television, to keep Nigerians abreast of the readiness of the commission to deploy card readers.
“Dr. Igini actually confirmed that VCRs had been purchased and would be deployed to check fake voters’ cards. However, strangely, the card readers were not deployed and the election was conducted with hitches which forced the loser to raise argument against the credibility of the election.
“So when Anambra governorship election was approaching, INEC under the watch of Professor Attahiru Jega promised to do everything to make the election clean; even as he specifically promised to make the Anambra election a guinea pig for the general elections in 2015. During that election, card readers were not deployed and we saw how the election was deliberately subverted and the county was exposed to opprobrium in the eye of the decent societies.
“The last by-election election conducted in Ondo State remained inconclusive, not because the electorate refused to vote but because there was a battle between the facts and perverts. Again, the failure to deploy a fraud curtailing technology like VCR was a major weakness of that hotly contested election in Ondo State and that reinforced our fear that if future elections are to be manipulated, INEC, because of its refusal to learn from the inadequacies of the past elections, would be made a victim of its folly, because if the elections remain inconclusive, when push comes to shove, a pre-programmed winner will be announced and the people’s will subverted”, the group explained.
Recently, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Ambassador Rufus Akeju said no fewer than 800,000 eligible voters registered more than once in Osun at a Southwest Stakeholders’ Forum on Advocacy for Inclusive and Accessible Electoral Process for Persons with Disabilities in Nigeria.