INEC’s Card Readers Test-run: Dissatisfaction, Doubt, Disagreement across Nigeria.

INEC’s Card Readers Test-run: Dissatisfaction, Doubt, Disagreement across Nigeria.

As the Independent national Electoral
Commission (INEC) at the weekend test-ran
the Smart Card Readers in some states of
the federation as part of its preparations for
the general election, a cross-section of
Nigerians and groups have expressed mixed
feelings on the desirability or otherwise of
the usage of the machine for the elections.
For instance, a former Deputy National
Chairman (South) of the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George,
has expressed doubts on the efficacy of the
Card Readers to be used for the elections,
Speaking with journalists on his arrival from
London at the Murtala Muhammed
International Airport, Lagos yesterday,
George challenged the chairman of
Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) ,
Professor Attahiru Jega to explain how he
intends to provide a contingency plan if the
Card Readers fail in some polling booths,
especially at the rural communities.
He said Jega, must have to convince
Nigerians on what contingency plan he has
before some political stakeholders would
fully endorse the use of the equipment for
the verification of authentic permanent
voter’s cards during the elections.
The PDP stalwart said INEC has to prove to
Nigerians that it is ready for a hitch-free
election with the use of the Card Readers,
noting that millions of Nigerians would
have been disenfranchised if INEC had gone
ahead with the earlier dates scheduled for
the elections without the postponement.
Also, the National Coordinator, Good
Governance Initiative (GGI), Dr. Harruna
Shettima, has described the test-run of the
Card Readers as a grossly inadequate
exercise incapable of ensuring a free, fair
and hitch- free election.
A press statement on INEC’s preparedness
to conduct the March 28 general election
and made available to journalists at the
weekend, quoted Shettima, as saying that
the mock exercise was below average,
characterised by several reports of flaws
and petulant failures totally incongruous
with the present democratic dispensation.
He said even though conducting the mock
election exercise prior to the general
election proper was laudable but it
nonetheless, exposed the underbellies of an
institution that was ill prepared; using an
apparatus that would disenfranchise
millions of Nigerians at polling booths.
According to him, “Conducting the mock
election in about 33 per cent of the country
ahead of the general election is a welcome
development but unfortunately, it has
succeeded in exposing the inadequacies of
the card readers and the electoral body to
ensure that every voter who turns up to
exercise their voting right on March 28 and
subsequent weeks would be properly
enfranchised, as the machines failed in
more than 40 per cent of the areas
captured for the exercise.”
Shettima said INEC should desist from
fooling Nigerians about its readiness to
conduct the forthcoming elections
maintaining that if it needs help and wants
more time to firm up its logistics before the
March 28 presidential elections, it should be
honorable to say so by telling the nation the
truth rather than being economical with the
facts which almost everybody appears to
have access to.
Also, a civic action group promoting good
governance and democracy, Move on
Nigeria, has called on INEC to take a
second look at the use of the Card Readers
and make necessary adjustments.
The group alleged that INEC might have
created a monstrosity by introducing a
never-been-used technology for the
conduct of a major election that will end up
in catastrophe except the country moves
back to the very simple clear cut way of
verifying and accrediting voters for an
In a statement made available to journalists
in Abuja and signed by the group’s National
Coordinator, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, the group
said the nation can afford to do away with
the Smart Card Reader rather than risk
having an election that is not credible.
“Everyone appears genuinely concerned
about the SCR but somehow INEC
Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and the APC
are the least worried. If there are things
they know that the rest of us don’t know
they should tell us.”
According to the group, “While President
Goodluck Jonathan is committed to
bequeathing to Nigeria a legacy of free, fair
and credible election, it is most likely he is
not on the same page with the INEC
chairman who from all intent and purposes
is working towards a predetermined
However, the governorship candidate of the
All Progressives Congress in Delta State,
Chief O’tega Emerhor, insisted that the
Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) must use cards readers to accredit
voters before voting in the upcoming
In a release by the Director of Media and
Political Communication of the O’tega
Emerhor Campaign Organisation, Dr. Fred
Oghenesivwe, Emerhor faulted the call for
discarding the use of card readers by the
“How can they say card readers should not
be used because they are untested? We
have to start from somewhere and the time
to start using card readers is now.
Moreover, INEC has been test running the
devise and even demonstrated it in the
senate chambers. Between now and the
elections they still have time to continue
test running and perfecting the use of the
card reader,” he added.
Oghenesivwe quoted Emerhor as saying
that “those clamouring for dumping the
card reader are looking for a window to rig
the elections. Rigging has always made
nonsense the will of our people; now we
have a devise that will help make genuine
votes count, some people are complaining.
They want to abandon a very useful devise
that has cost billions in tax payers’ money.
APC will resist any such calls.”
Also, the National Coordinator for
Committee for Democracy and Rights of the
People (CDRP), Amitolu Shittu, has said the
use of Card Readers for the conduct of the
polls would eliminate fraud and over voting
during the period.
He said such development would go a long
way in assisting the INEC to achieve a
credible and acceptable election results.
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin yesterday
on the state of the nation, Shittu said the
uses of the Card Readers would also
stabilise the nation’s democracy since it
would put an end to the alleged
manipulations of votes by self-seeking
politicians during the polls.
According to him, “the usage of the Card
Readers would authenticate the owner of
the permanent voters cards before allowing
to vote and this would assist us to achieve a
credible and acceptable election results at
the end of the elections.”
He said: “It is worth mentioning that there
are a lot of advantages in the usage of Card
Readers system in the forthcoming polls
especially in the authentication of eligible
voters that would votes during the polls.


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