The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will use card readers during the 2019 general elections but ruled out the electronic transmission of results.
This is coming days after President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of the Electoral Act amendment bill sent to him by the National Assembly.
However, INEC chairman Prof Mahmud Yakubu said the commission would deploy card readers in every polling unit in the country just as it did in 2015.
Yakubu, who spoke during the public hearing on the menace of vote buying and improving the country’s electoral processes, said the commission had finished all preparations towards the use of the card reader.
The public hearing was organised by the joint National Assembly committee on electoral matters and political parties’ affairs jointly chaired by Sen Suleiman Nazif Gamawa (PDP, Bauchi) and Rep Aishatu Jibril Dukku (APC, Gombe) respectively. However, the INEC chairman said the commission was yet to configure the card readers to match specific polling units, noting that INEC will do that in the coming weeks.
Responding to questions from some senators and stakeholders, Prof Yakubu said: “For those talking about whether INEC would use card reader during the 2019 elections or not, I want to assure that INEC will deploy card reader in every polling unit in the country.
“This is an assurance from the commission, and we are ever ready to do that, although we are yet to configure the card readers to match every polling unit.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki, had while declaring the hearing open, urged INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders to ensure free, fair and credible polls in 2019.
He said INEC should improve on the unprecedented record it set during the 2015 elections, pointing out vote buying is currently one of the most disturbing challenges of Nigeria’s political process.
The joint committee chairmen, Gamawa and Dukku said the public hearing was organised to give Nigerians an opportunity to suggest possible ways of tackling vote buying.
Disquiet over electronic transmission of results
But Daily Trust reports that beyond the issue of card reader, the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly, led by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, with acting support of the leadership of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) want the amended Electoral Act assented to so that other issues including electronic transmission of results would be backed by law and therefore mandatory.
It was gathered that the PDP leaders had at a recent meeting with other stakeholders in the electoral process expressed fears that besides the reasons given by President Muhammadu Buhari for not assenting to the Electoral Act amendment, the Presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) do not want the new electoral act for now simply because they have perfected plans to rig the 2019 elections.