By Taiwo Adebowale
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, said he has noted with deep concern, reports that contrary to its promise of 2018, made at different times and in multiple locations, that it would not use the controversial incident forms, the Independent National Electoral Commission has backtracked and decided to allow the use of the unreliable incident forms.
In a statement released on Thursday, January 3, his Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, declared that this is unacceptable to the Peoples Democratic Party and Atiku Abubakar.
According to Atiku, “any decision to use incident forms in the February 16, 2019 elections is an attempt to toe the line of President Muhammadu Buhari, who thrice refused to sign the amended Electoral Act, for fear of the use of card readers, which would prevent rigging by desperate power mongers”.
Atiku Abubakar noted that data from the 2015 elections showed that 75% of the almost 14 million people who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015, were linked to Muhammadu Buhari.
“There are no reliable and accurate means of knowing who those voters were and whether they were genuine voters or sham voters. This disproportionate number of voters who voted without biometric accreditation in 2015 affected the integrity of those elections and we hold the INEC to its oft-repeated promise not to use anything but the Smart Card Readers and PVCs for the 2019 elections.
“We know that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has been desperate to avoid the use of Smart Card Readers and PVCs for the 2019 elections and the reported volte face by the INEC can only raise concerns about the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau” Atiku asserted.
Atiku Abubakar reminded the INEC that the world is watching and Nigerians are alert to see if the present Chairman and board of INEC would place national interests above narrow oligarchic interest.
Atiku further reminded the Chairman of the INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu of his promise to Nigerians at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room National Stakeholders’ Forum on Elections which held in Abuja on December 10, 2018, where he said as follows:
“The commission assures Nigerians that the smart card reader has become an integral part of the electoral process and will be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. The commission has taken onboard the challenges and glitches faced in the use and deployment of smart card readers in 2015 and has made significant improvements and upgrade to the said smart card readers.”
“Our question is this – what has changed between December 10, 2018 and today? Has Professor Mahmood Yakubu caved into pressures from anti-democratic forces?
“At ₦143 billion, it is safe to say that more than enough funds were appropriated for the INEC to acquire and distribute Smart Card Readers, as such there is no reason for this 180 degree turn.
“The job of the INEC is to give Nigerians a level playing field and an election that reflects the will of the people and not that of their oppressors. These reports do not incite hope. Not at all.
“We once again want to sound the alarm that only the strict use of Smart Card Readers and PVCs can guarantee free, fair and credible elections that will be accepted by Nigerians and the international community”, Atiku declared.