Senate today, summoned the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega to appear before it tomorrow, Wednesday, even as members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Senate have raised alarm over what they called a fresh plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to again, postpone the March 28, April 11 general elections.
Senate President, David Mark, at the plenary today, said that Professor Jega would be expected to throw more light on the preparedness of the electoral umpire for the elections, as well as explain the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and the process of card reader.
However, the Senate minority leader, Senator George Akume suggested that the nation’s security chiefs, including the Chief Of Army Staff, the National Security Adviser (NSA) should also be summoned before the Senate since the major reason for the postponement of February 14 and 28 elections was the lack of preparedness by the nation’s security personnel to provide security during the elections.
The APC senators later walked out of the plenary to address the National Assembly reporters in the Senate where they alleged that the Presidency, in collaboration with the ruling PDP, are again planning to arm-twist the electoral umpire to canvass a shift, using the card reader as an excuse.
The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba had earlier moved a motion for the summoning of Professor jega, over the planned use of the card reader for the election which he argued would contravene Section 52 of the Electoral Act which prohibits the use of electronic device during election.
Senators Akume insisted at the news conference that anything short of conducting the elections as scheduled, and using the card readers to avoid rigging, might lead to a civil war.
The APC Senators argued that since the card readers are meant for the accreditation of the voters, their usage would not constitute a breach of the Electoral Act as postulated by the Senate Leader.
The opposition senators alleged that the PDP leadership, having failed to use the security challenges and poor collection of Permanent Voter Cards as excuses to postpone the polls again, had started a fresh plot by hiding under the card reader’s usage.
Akume said: “Elections must be held as rescheduled, it is important that the Independent National Electoral Commission must do this in order to avoid unpleasant consequences.
“Nigeria is a huge and complex society, culturally, structurally, and everything must be done to avoid the Somalia experience. There would be too many warlords in this country should we fail to do what is right.
“Nigerians deserve the best. Card readers will add value to the conduct of the elections; we are talking about free and fair elections. Time has passed when people carry ballot boxes and papers to their respective rooms, thumb-print and bring them for counting the following day.
“The whole world is watching this county. We have become a laughing stock, we are becoming a banana republic.
“We are even more patriotic than those who are in government. We want elections and card readers to be applied; they must be used, otherwise, the elections can never be free and fair.
“If a country like Ghana can get it right, using the card reader, why can’t the giant of Africa do it? If Sierra Leone can do it, even Liberia, why can’t Nigeria do it? We are waiting for INEC to do it; INEC must use it.
“Card readers are a must to ensure free, credible, acceptable elections. To do otherwise won’t be acceptable”
The senators also vowed to frustrate any plan by the ruling PDP to extend President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration through the composition of an Interim National Government, saying: “there is no country in the world whose leader can sit down and do what we are doing here, to undermine our democracy. That is tantamount to treason.
“We have nothing like Interim Government in our constitution and of course, there is nothing like coup in our constitution and therefore, we must do the right thing. The president himself has sworn to protect this country and therefore, where he is going wrong, he must be corrected.” [myad]