The Nigerian presidency has expressed concern with the use of voter card readers for the forthcoming elections, questioning its legality and efficiency, and defending an earlier position of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on the matter.
Vice President Namadi Sambo said Thursday that while his party was not against the use of card readers, which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says will help curb vote fraud, it was concerned whether the decision is backed by law and about the possibility of many Nigerians being disenfranchised.
The PDP has strongly criticised the use of card reading machines for the polls, while the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, backs INEC’s plan to deploy them for what is billed to be a close poll.
The ruling party argues that the use of any machine is not allowed under Nigerian electoral laws, but INEC says the electronic readers will be used only for card verification, and not voting.
The electoral body has also assured that it will provide for manual screening of voters where the machines fail, to ensure no one is disenfranchised – another concern expressed by the PDP.
The APC defends INEC, saying it welcomes any effort to ensure credible polls. The party accuses the PDP of plotting to rig the elections, hence its decision to oppose machine readers.
Mr. Sambo’s remarks, Thursday, were the first from the presidency on the card reader controversy.
Speaking in Kano, Mr. Sambo said his party cannot be afraid of the card readers as it is certain of winning the presidential and governorship elections.
He said the party was only kicking against the use of the machines, as they may fail, leading to the disenfranchisement of many Nigerians.
The vice president also questioned the machine’s place in the Electoral Law.
“If it is not there (in the law) then does it mean it is illegal? And can we depend on an illegal thing when we are talking of a free and fair election that will lead to having credible leaders?” he asked.
He said the PDP was making frantic efforts to ensure Nigerians elect leaders through an election worthy of international recognition.
Mr. Sambo urged Nigerians to take a careful look at the electoral law and see whether the use of card readers is recognized.
He said the PDP is the only party for Nigerians, being fully established in all parts of the country.
“Our party has been there since 1998,” he said. “It has never changed name or colour. It is the party Nigerians want and the party they will vote in to continue doing good things.”