‘Permanent Voters Card Ready, Soon’ …As INEC Insists On Parties De-registation

  • Mon, 13 Aug 2012 01:35:48 -0600 - Nigerian Tide
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said
yesterday in Abuja that it would soon start issuing permanent voters’ cards.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, gave the assurance when
he fielded questions at an interview session with newsmen.

He said distribution of the proposed voters’ cards would
begin before the end of this year.

He added that the objective was to improve the credibility
and transparency of the electoral process in the country and that the proposed
card was geared toward improving the use of technology in elections.

“As you know, we did biometric data registration; before the
end of this year, we will start issuing the permanent voters’ cards and these
permanent voters’ cards that we are going to issue are chip-based, just like
many of our own bank cards.

“So they carry all the information on a microchip which is
embedded in the card of the voter.

“So what we believe we can achieve at the minimum by 2015,
is that we can achieve 100 per cent authentication at the polling units.’’

“If a voter comes to the polling unit and brings out his or
her card, we will be able to determine 100 per cent whether he is the
legitimate holder of the card.

“So, the issues of people using other people’s cards to go
and vote; the issues of stealing cards or even buying cards will be squarely
dealt with and that, we believe we can achieve, God willing by 2015.

“We already have all the data in our database; we are now
going to issue the permanent voter cards; all we need to do between now and
2015 is to buy what I call card readers in which we will store all the
information,’’ Jega said.

The INEC chairman explained further that card readers would
be available in all the polling units to ascertain the legitimacy of the
holder.

Jega also said that the process of identifying valid owners
of the card would go a long way in terms of improving the credibility and the
transparency of the electoral process.

On the proposed electronic voting in 2015, and its
feasibility, he said: “technically, there is no proposal by INEC that it should
be adopted in 2015.’’

He said INEC instead made a recommendation to the National
Assembly that the provision of the Constitution which prohibited electronic
voting should be removed due to its limitation.

“Right now, if we are to introduce electronic voting in this
country, we have to do a lot of piloting.

“We have to do a lot of sampling of existing machines right
now, because of that prohibition, we can’t even attempt to do it.’’

He said, however, that INEC would explore the possibility of
electronic voting if the said provision was deleted from the Constitution.

“Now if that is done in good time, and we are able to
explore the possibility and it seems feasible, then obviously at that time we
will tell Nigerians that it is feasible, and then maybe we should try it.

“But right now, we haven’t gotten to that stage; right now
what we want is the removal of a major hindrance for INEC to even begin to
explore the possibility of electronic voting.

“But what INEC is trying to do, and then we are really again
improving the use of technology in elections, is that as you know we did
biometric data registration.’’

Meanwhile, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman,
Prof. Attahiru Jega, said in Abuja yesterday that the commission would continue
to de-register political parties that failed to comply with the provisions of
the Electoral Act.

Jega, who made the declaration at a forum, said that the
commission was empowered by law to de-register political parties.

“The Constitution and the Electoral Act gave INEC the power
to de-register political parties and we have commenced that process and it is
ongoing. So, until there is a change in the legislation, obviously, any
political party that does not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act,
we are obligated to de-register them.

“So, it is an ongoing process. It’s a continuous process and
we will do it. I think there are very useful models of registration of
political parties in other countries that we can learn from.’’

Jega said the commission was determined to review the
process of registering political parties to ensure that they meet certain
conditions before they could field candidates for elective positions.

According to him, INEC has already proposed some recommendations
for constitutional amendment to vary the process of registration, while
maintaining multiparty system of democracy.

He said: “It is good to have a multiparty system and to
allow as many parties as possible to register, but we really need to sanitise
the process of registering political parties. This will ensure that only the
most deserving in terms of their programmes, their constitution, and their
physical presence in states and in localities are registered.

“But being a registered political party does not necessarily
mean that you must field candidates in all elections. It may be necessary for
some parties to bid their time until they are ripe enough to field candidates
at elections.

“So, we think that’s the way to go rather than to limit the
number of registered parties to just a few.’’

Jega added that there were not less than three fresh
applications for registration of new political parties.

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