INEC Test-Runs Card Readers in 12 States

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Kayode Idowu

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is test running the card readers which will be used for elections in 12 out of the 36 states of the federation

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Mar. 16, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

DESPITE the protest by some Nigerians over the use of card readers for the forthcoming general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is determined to make use of them. The INEC will on Saturday, March 7, test the card reader technology in two states of each geo-political zone to ensure that the election officials master how to use the card readers before the elections.

Chris Iyimoga, national director, information and voter education, INEC, said smartcard readers would be tested in 12 states chosen from across the six geo-political zones of the country to assess their efficiency ahead of the general elections. He noted that smartcard readers had been distributed to the states, and maintained that each of the Polling Units had gotten the card readers ready. He, however, explained that the card readers were configured for the elections as earlier scheduled but have now been re-configured for the rescheduled elections on March 28 and April 11.

“Even though the commission has satisfactorily tested the smart card readers before the re-scheduling of the elections, it is to further conduct more rigorous field testing of the card readers which will be deployed for the accreditation of voters on Election Day. Two states from each of the six geopolitical zones of the federation will be involved in the testing which will take place simultaneously this Friday, March 7,” he said.

The states selected for the exercise are Ekiti, Lagos, Anambra, Ebonyi, Delta and Rivers. Others include Kano, Kebbi, Bauchi, Taraba, Niger and Nasarawa. Iyimoga maintained that in the course of the field testing, the resident electoral commissioners, RECs, of the selected states would select one registration area with full compliments of the permanent voters card, PVCs, and appreciable distribution rate of the PVCs where the field test would be undertaken. He said the RECs would also ensure that the register of voters in respect of all Polling Units designated registration areas are printed for the exercise.

Attahiru Jega, chairman, INEC, also shifted his meeting with the RECs, which was supposed to hold on Wednesday, March 4, to Wednesday, March 11. He said the rescheduling of the meeting was to enable the commissioners to give the chairman feedback on the collection of the Permanent Voter Cards and other preparations for election. Realnews learnt that on March 12, INEC would finalise preparations for the March 28 and April 11 general elections.

Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, who confirmed that the meeting had been shifted, said the meeting was scheduled to finalise preparations for the general elections. He explained that the meeting was shifted so that RECs could give reports on the testing of card readers, which would hold on Saturday, March 7. “The commission’s meeting with the RECs was a long scheduled operational meeting to finalise preparations for the general elections,” Idowu said.

There were fears at INEC on Monday, March 2, that some pro-government RECs might pass a vote of no confidence on INEC chairman at meeting, initially scheduled for Wednesday. The vote of no vote confidence, it was gathered, was planned to be a prelude to Jega’s removal by the federal government. It was, however, learnt that the said pro-government commissioners might have had a change of mind because of the growing opposition to the alleged plan to remove Jega. But investigations revealed that Jega’s supporters were not letting down their guards despite the alleged change of mind of the pro-government RECs. But Idowu denied the claim that the planned vote of no confidence was in the agenda of the meeting.

Meanwhile, INEC said 52, 233,396 representing 80 percent of the 68,833476 registered voters have collected their PVCs. The electoral body made the revelation in a statement signed by Idowu. According to the statement, Zamfara State has the highest collection rate, with 97 percent of the 1,495,717 voters, while Ogun State comes last. In Ogun, only 40.86 percent of the 1,829534 registered voters have collected their PVCs.

Others states, including Katsina, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Gombe States, also have over 90 percent collection rates. In Lagos State, of the 5,905,852 registered voters, only 3,885322 have collected their cards, representing 62.40 percent collection rate. Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Kebbi and Sokoto States have surpassed 80 percent collection rate.

The statement said in Bayelsa, Benue, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Oyo and Borno States, more than 60 percent of registered voters have also been given their cards. The statement showed that many states have attained over 70 percent collection rate. The states with over 70 percent collection rate include Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Delta, Enugu, Kano, Kogi and Kwara States. Others are Yobe, Ondo, Osun, Rivers and Plateau States. In Abuja, 541,359 voters have had their cards, representing 61.42 percent of the 881,472 registered voters.

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