Posted by News Express | 17 March 2015 | 3,559 times
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, said yesterday it would be irresponsible of him to resign his appointment, less than two weeks to the general elections.
Ethnic militia groups, such as the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) organised protests in the South-East and Lagos respectively in the last 48 hours, calling for Jega’s resignation and their opposition to the use of Card Readers for the elections.
Jega, who spoke in Abuja during the Town Hall meeting organized by the Ford Foundation in conjunction with Channels Television, maintained that resigning such a sensitive position with just a few days to the elections will only be irresponsible of him.
“The issue of my resignation at this point in time just days to the elections will be irresponsible of me to do. I have a duty to perform and I am very focused on delivering free, fair and credible elections that will even surpass what we did in 2011.
“I will only say that the issue of resignation is out of the question and let me state that nobody has asked me to resign. I only read it in the pages of newspapers just as you did,” he said.
On the INEC’s readiness for the elections, Jega said the postponement from February 14 to March 28 has actually helped the commission to prepare better for the polls.
The INEC boss, however, noted that the elections could still have taken place last month with the 67 per cent projection for the collection of the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) before the postponement.
“Certainly, the postponement of the polls has helped us to prepare better but that does not mean that by February 14, we could not have had a good election because by our projection, we were to distribute 67% of the PVCs which would have been far better than any previous record. In Ekiti and Osun, it was barely 63%.
“One major challenge we have in distributing the voter cards is our own peculiarities in Nigeria. In some other places, you can even mail the cards to people, but we all know what the result will be if we try that here. We should also ask why many PVCs are lying idle at collection centres without their owners coming for them,” he noted.
On Card Readers, Jega warned that the decision on use for the elections is irreversible even as he explained that already the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) have been mandated to begin enlightening the people in their states on the need to keep their hands clean before coming to do their accreditation.
According to him, “the role of the military, as defined in the Constitution, is for the Armed Forces to provide support to civil authorities if there is a breakdown of law and order, stressing that the military participated in the 2011 elections within the confines of the Constitution to provide support to the police”.
He noted that as it used to be in the previous elections, every policeman attached to various polling units will be asked to stay 300 metres away, adding that there was no time INEC had never allowed men in uniform to partake in the electoral proceedings.
“We have never had policemen at polling units, what we have are three unarmed policemen manning a polling unit, while three armed policemen stay 300 metres away from the polling unit.
On the state of security which was the basis for the shifting of the elections, Jega stated that the situation in the country has improved now. “There is evidence indicating we are much better security-wise than before the postponement of the election,” he said.
*Adapted from Daily Sun. Photo shows Jega
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