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Uduaghan Expresses Concern over INEC’s Card Readers

Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan has expressed concern over the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) decision to use card readers in the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.

Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (left), with Ambassador. Michel Arrion, European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, when the Ambassador paid the Governor a courtesy visit, Tuesday.

Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (left), with Ambassador. Michel Arrion, European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, when the Ambassador paid the Governor a courtesy visit, Tuesday.

The Governor expressed the fear that should the card readers fail and or many people are unable to vote because of inability to collect their permanent voters’ cards, there would be confusion and a serious challenge for the country.

Speaking when the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr. Michel Arrion paid him a courtesy visit in Asaba, he said that he had nothing against the use of the card readers but that it must be well tested to ensure that nothing goes wrong on Election Day.

“Delta state has 40% of what we call difficult areas to reach areas, meaning water and swamp and right now we know that INEC is in the process of using card readers and PVCs. We are not against the card readers but we also do not want it to be used in such a way that our people will not be happy at the end of the day. We think that enough underground work has not been done yet on the use of the card readers”, he stated.

He argued that the electorate has to be properly sensitized and mobilized to ensure that they are carried along and that there were no hitches with the elections.

Besides, Dr. Uduaghan noted that though there has been noticeable improvement, the issue of permanent voters’ card was yet to be fully resolved.

According to him, it has become obvious now that if the elections had held on February 14, Nigeria would have been faced with serious challenges which may have resulted in confusion and chaos.

He said that the postponement of the elections from February 14 saved Nigeria from embarrassment and crisis as it was obvious that the INEC had not carried out enough enlightenment campaign on the use of the card reader and urged the European Union in particular to work with the INEC for successful general elections.

“Our people need to be better educated on the use of the card readers if not it will turn out to be a mess. I can comfortably say that if that election on February 14th was held, Nigeria would have been in confusion. It is obvious from what we can see because we still have the challenge of people going to collect their permanent voters’ card”, he added.

The Governor enjoined the EU to come to the aid of INEC so that the technical issues surrounding the card readers and permanent voters’ cards are resolved effectively.

“We still have a gap but again technically it is the card readers which I think the EU has a responsibility of assisting INEC in perfecting the use. I know INEC is insisting on the use of them and we are not against their use but what we are saying is that if by the 28th of March people are not sufficiently educated enough to understand the use of the card readers then we must think twice before using it if not the election will be a big mess”.

Dr. Uduaghan commended the European Union for partnering with Delta State in different areas, noting that such EU sponsored programmes like MPP 9 has contributed to the development of the state.

He disclosed that the SEEFOR is assisting the State Government in public financial management reforms especially in audit and public procurement, stressing that the SEEFOR has contributed to job creation through the engagement of over 4, 000 persons in sanitation activities.

He assured the ambassador that the Delta State government would continue to partner with the EU as such would lead to the success of the Delta Beyond Oil programme of his administration.

The Governor noted that the micro-credit programme of his administration have recorded successes and commended the EU for having programmes on food security, nutrition and energy.

Earlier, Mr. Arrion who was accompanied by the EU Project Director, Mr. Temitayo Omole, told the Governor and members of the executive council that he was on tour of states of the country, adding that the EU was interested in peaceful elections in Nigeria.

“We are very much involved in the electoral process, the EU is supporting INEC, we are also observing the elections,” he said, disclosing that the EU has 50 observers across the country and will stay back till May this year to monitor happenings before and after the elections.

On the use of card reader for the general elections, Mr. Arrion disclosed that the EU was partnering INEC in carrying out technical stress-testing of the card readers and in the training of INEC staff.

While observing that energy was the major challenge of Nigerians, Mr. Arrion said the EU was also interested in food security, nutrition, good governance and the rule of law, adding that the EU was also committed to checking trafficking in human beings and small arms.

 

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