The Enugu State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, has berated the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for keeping opposition parties in the dark, ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The party’s allegation is against the backdrop of plans by the INEC to begin the distribution of permanent voters’ cards and fresh registration of voters in over 600 polling units in Enugu State.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting organized by the INEC in Enugu on Thursday, the state APC chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye, called on the commission to be unbiased in its distribution of permanent voter cards in the state.
Nwoye explained that the call became necessary because APC was not invited for the forum.
“The APC was not invited for this meeting and this is undemocratic because all opposition parties are to be carried along.
“What is happening is not a reflection of a democratic process but a meeting between INEC and the ruling party and I happened to gate-crash.
“I was coming in from a long journey when a concerned citizen called me and said there was a rumour that there might be a meeting between INEC, political parties and other stakeholders.
“I made a call to a staff of INEC who confirmed that there was indeed a meeting of this nature”, he said.
Nwoye, who doubles as the state Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), said that the gathering was “skewed to favour the PDP”.
“Our people are not here, the market women, students, Okada riders and other stakeholders are not here”, he added.
On the three days set aside for the distribution of the permanent voter card, the APC chairman noted that the timeline was grossly inadequate.
“We know that the last time they did registration of voters it took them over one week to put their computer on and another one week to buy fuel.
“Now that the permanent voter cards have been manufactured after over three years, you want to distribute them in three days.
“Between the last voters’ registration and now, millions of Nigerians have turned 18 years. Yet they also want to use five days to register such people”, he added.
Nwoye also stressed that residents of the state must not be disenfranchised for whatever reason.
In his reaction, the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Lawrence Azubuike, disagreed with Nwoye, saying all opposition parties were invited for the meeting.
“The information was to invite all political parties in the state and I was informed that the APC was invited and that the invitation was sent to the address of the office we know”, he said.
Azubuike said INEC would be fair to all stakeholders in all cases, adding only those that were non-partisan would be engaged for the distribution of the cards and registration of prospective voters.
He said that the distribution of the permanent voter card would commence from May 23 to May 25, while the continuous voter registration would take place between May 28 and June 1, 2014.
Meanwhile, chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in Enugu State, also told journalists that he was not invited to the meeting.
He equally faulted the time allotted for the forthcoming exercise.