Ahead of the March and April Nigerian general elections, the Senate has expressed satisfaction with the level of readiness and preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
The Senate’s position on INEC and the forthcoming elections was disclosed by David Mark, the Senate President, following the briefing and demonstration of the workings of the card reader by INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, and his team during plenary on Wednesday.
To guarantee the credibility of the elections and prevent use of fake permanent voter cards, the electoral management body will use card readers for accreditation of voters, Mr. Jega, a Professor of Political Science, said.
Expressing confidence in Mr. Jega and INEC in his remark, Mr. Mark assured the Commission of support of the Senate to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
He added that the session was beneficial to both INEC and the lawmakers.
“We have so much confidence that you will organise free, fair and credible elections; indeed all of us who are standing for election in the Senate will like to come back,” Mr. Mark said. “We will like to win our election but we want to win in free, fair and credible elections. I can say that nobody seated here wants to come back through the back door.
“It is for us to assist you to conduct free, fair and credible elections and whatever we can do between now and the date you have chosen for us to go for the elections, we will not hesitate to do. I believe that you have benefitted from this interaction; we have also benefitted. A number of issues have been raised and they are pointers to the way you will like to look at the administrative and technical issues that have also been raised.’’
Mr. Mark also urged his colleagues to utilise the electronic mail facility provided by INEC to report problems they and other people might be experiencing in their constituencies.
Although two senators of the Peoples Democratic Party, Heineken Lokpobri and Odion Ugbesia, argued against the use of card readers for the coming elections on the ground of alleged unconstitutionality, Mr. Jega stood his ground and argued that no section of the constitution forbade electronic device for accreditation.
He explained the difference between actual voting and accreditation, saying electronic devices such as card reader was only unconstitutional in respect of actual voting, defined as casting of ballot and dropping it in the ballot box.