7th November, 2014
DISTRIBUTION OF VOTERS’ CARDS: INEC MUST CORRECT ANOMALIES
The distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) exercise began nationwide sometime ago. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been conducting the exercise with hiccups noticed here and there.
While we commend INEC for taking giant strides in the conduct of elections in a country as complex as Nigeria, we hasten to warn that the electoral body must quickly correct errors in its calculations and submissions. In particular, INEC leadership must develop an eagle eye capable of detecting bad eggs who may be responsible for errors of commission.
We know that even INEC can err since erring is human. But such mistakes must be limited to errors of omission. INEC must expose insiders who collaborate with election riggers no matter whose ox is gored. Adequate punishment capable of acting as deterrent must also be meted out to such black sheep.
In this regard, INEC must quickly correct the numerical inexactitude noted in the number of registered voters in Lagos State. Whereas INEC declared 6,247 million voters for Lagos in 2011, the electoral body has declared 4.8 million only for the 2015 exercise. This leaves a huge shortfall of 1.4 million. In Ogun State for example, hundreds of names were reported missing, including that of Mr. Allen-Taylor, a lawmaker from the state.
The failure of INEC to start the distribution exercise in Lagos on Friday as previously announced by INEC is equally disturbing. The state government had declared Friday workfree because of INEC’s announcement so as to enable civil servants and other workers in the state to partake in the exercise.
The economic loss as a result of the holiday must have been immense and INEC must be held responsible for this. The electoral body must tighten its belt as it should not create the impression that any particular state is being targeted for under-registration.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) finds these anomalies alarming. We charge INEC to correct the irregularities in order to allay voters’ fears. Rigging does not take place on the day of election per se. It starts from registration of voters.
INEC has built a good reputation which must not be allowed to be soiled by overambitious politicians and greedy individuals. The electoral body must therefore take such steps that will assure state governments, political parties and the electorate generally of its good intentions. This must be done in the next few days in order to avoid doubts and suspicions which may lead to protests and violence before, during and after elections.
Finally, MURIC calls on INEC to quickly address the issues raised. The 1.4 million names missing in the Lagos axis is unacceptable. Something must also be done about the names missing on the voters’ register in other states. Similarly, INEC must compensate Lagosians for the distribution exercise which could not take off in Lagos on Friday by extending the exercise by at least 24 hours.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)