Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega says politicians will find it very difficult to rig the 2015 election, as the commission is putting several measures in place to check this.
“We shall be using card readers which we believe will add tremendous integrity to the electoral system. We are using NYSC, lawyers and retired judges. We are bringing more people of integrity. We did biometric registration and we issued permanent voter cards. The idea is to use card readers with electronic chips that will help identify the person who was actually registered,” said Jega, who was in the US to monitor the mid-term elections.
He told Thisday that politicians would no longer be able to buy cards or use the cards of dead people to vote, with the technology the commission was adopting.
“The biometric card reader will add tremendous integrity to the electoral system. We have used eight months to clean up the register, which is one of the best in the African continent.
“We are saying that in 2015, if anybody rigs the election, that person will be apprehended and punished. Rigging will not determine the electoral fortunes of anybody. Let me also add that from all perspective, operationally and logistically, we are ready for the 2015 elections from the perspective of the electoral management body and we are working closely with all stake holders to address some of the outstanding challenges.
“Security is a major challenge. However, we are working with the security network to ensure that elections are held in every part of Nigeria including the North-east. We implore everyone to come out and register and elect the right people to office. My advice is that all stakeholders should be actively engaged in the process and stop being sarcastic but should work towards ensuring the true choice of the people emerge in 2015.
“We have done so many things including cleaning up the register of voters. In 2011, we had barely eight months to clean up the register but now we had four years to do this and we put the four years to good use,” Jega said.
According to the INEC Chairman, the US mid-term elections offered him a rich repertoire of experiences which have evolved over 200 years with so much trust and confidence that no one suspects the electoral bodies of compromise.
Speaking at a press conference held at the press room of the Nigerian Embassy, Jega said many electoral commissioners from other countries applauded the great reforms the Nigerian electoral system has undergone since 1999, but added that “We have to earn the confidence and trust of voters in our country. Sadly, Nigerian politicians suspect everything we do but we have to make it clear we are working towards a transparent electoral system, letting them know we work towards having a level playing field for everybody.”
He also expressed his disappointment over comments that he favoured the north with more polling units and less for the South. “I feel bad because in Nigerian politics, people bandy all sorts of allegations and when it comes to your territory you have to defend yourself. When I am accused of doing what I did not do, I feel bad but all I need to do is to clarify the issues with additional information. But the mischievous remains unrelenting. I am not a religious bigot. I have conducted myself as chairman of INEC with impartiality and non-partisanship along with other INEC national commissioners. We are working together to deliver the best election for our country. So we refuse to be distracted.”