The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday called for the use of only smart card readers and permanent voter cards in the 2019 elections.
He said he was concerned about reports that contrary to the 2018 promise by the Independent National Electoral Commission at different times and locations that it would not use the controversial incident forms, INEC had allegedly backtracked and decided to allow the use of incident forms which he said were unreliable.
Atiku, in a statement by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, said the development was unacceptable to him and the PDP
According to him, any decision to use incident forms in the February 16, 2019 elections is an attempt to toe the line of President Muhammadu Buhari, who thrice refused to sign the amended Electoral Act, for alleged fear of the use of card readers, which would prevent rigging by desperate power mongers.
He stated that data from the 2015 elections showed that 75 per cent of the almost 14 million people who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015 were linked to Buhari.
He said, “There are no reliable and accurate means of knowing who those voters were and whether they were genuine voters or sham voters. This disproportionate number of voters who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015 affected the integrity of those elections and we hold the INEC to its oft-repeated promise not to use anything but the smart card readers and PVCs for the 2019 elections.
“We know that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has been desperate to avoid the use of smart card readers and PVCs for the 2019 elections and the reported volte face by the INEC can only raise concerns about the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau.”
He told INEC that the world was watching and Nigerians were alert to see if the present INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, and the INEC board would place national interest above narrow oligarchic interest.
He also reminded Mahmood of his promise to Nigerians at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room National Stakeholders’ Forum on Elections which held in Abuja on December 10, 2018, where he said as follows:
“The commission assures Nigerians that the smart card reader has become an integral part of the electoral process and will be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 General Elections. The commission has taken onboard the challenges and glitches faced in the use and deployment of smart card readers in 2015 and has made significant improvements and upgrade to the said smart card readers.”
He said it was worrisome what had changed between December 10, 2018 and today and whether Yakubu had caved into pressure from anti-democratic forces?