Rivers: CNPP faults delay in voter cards distribution
THE Conference of Nigerian Political Parties has faulted the delay by the Independent National Electoral Commission in commencing the distribution of permanent voter cards and the continuous voter registration in Rivers State.
INEC had announced that it would commence the distribution of voter cards in Rivers on August 22, 2014 and end two days after (August 24, 2014) while that of the continuous voter registration in the state would begin from August 28 to 31, 2014.
But the CNPP explained that the time given by INEC for both the distribution of permanent voter cards and continuous voter registration in the state was too short to carry out an accurate exercise.
State Chairman of the CNPP, Dr. Manaigbi Dagogo-Jack, who spoke in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Monday, argued that it would be difficult for the commission to distribute the permanent voter cards to millions of voters in the state within three days.
Dagogo-Jack pointed out that INEC should have fixed the issuance of permanent voter cards and continuous voter registration earlier than August 2014 so as to give room for the correction of any blunder detected by the electorate or the commission.
He said, “INEC has announced that the registration of voters in Rivers State will be in August. It is proper that registration of voters is done across the country in time and enough time should be given so that would-be voters, who have questions to ask, can get answers.
“There may be errors in the distribution of permanent voter cards and INEC will need enough time to correct such errors. As the chairman of the CNPP in Rivers State, I see no reason why voters’ registration has not been conducted by now.
“They are now shifting it to August. There is no reason for that. I think that the permanent voters’ cards should be given to the voters now. INEC should commence the continuous voter registration in Rivers without further delay,” he said.
Dagogo-Jack, however, expressed the need to stop the use of soldiers in areas where elections were being conducted.
Citing the situation in Ekiti State during the recent governorship election as an example, the state CNPP said the ‘heavy’ presence of soldiers during election period was capable of making mockery of the nation’s democracy.
Dagogo-Jack explained that rather than send the military to election arenas, they (soldiers) should be drafted to the North to fight Boko Haram and release the missing girls in Chibok, Borno State.
He argued that since the electorate in Ekiti State were civilians, the heavy presence of soldiers in the state during the election was unnecessary.
He cautioned that such a situation should not be a standard for the 2015 elections in any state, adding that the military presence during elections was inimical to the growth of democracy anywhere in the world. (5)