By Speedwell Emeka Onyewuotu
I have read and listened to Prof. Attahiru Jega and some of his RECs talk about INEC’s plan to use the Card Readers in the forthcoming election. At first I was impressed, but when I took a critical look at the plan, my alarm system was triggered off.
During the last voters registration, when the Data Capture Machine was first used to capture voters details, I was at a Polling Unit where I went to register, a man who came to register just like everyone of us placed his thumb on the machine, it rejected his registration and a picture of a lady popped up as the owner of the thump print. Both the man and the INEC Adhoc officials were confused. They tried to register the man with another machine and succeeded.
What happened then is called Software Error. Much as I commend the Card Reader innovation, I can’t help paying attention to some thought provoking questions my alarm system is bringing up concerning the proposed use of Card Readers in the coming election.
- What if the Card Reader produced for Ward A, PU 1 is mistakenly sent to Ward D, PU 4, like they did to our PVCs in my Local Government.
- What if I, being a legitimate voter, whose name is in the Voters Register in PU 1 in Ward D, report to my Polling Unit with my PVC to vote and the Card Reader rejects it, due to software or programming error?
- Why didn’t INEC test run the proposed Card Readers in smaller elections, like the Ekiti or Osun elections?
- Why will INEC use a whole Presidential Election as the guinea pig to test the use of the Card Reader in a real election situation?
- What if there is some sort of connivance with those who did the programming, to disenfranchise some people?
- What if I lose my PVC on the eve of the election?
- These machines are mass produced and can have factory errors, what is INEC's plan B?
I suggest INEC should allow whoever has his name and picture on the voters register to vote, let’s not disenfranchise Nigerians in the name of Card Readers. The future of this great country is now in the hands of INEC, INEC should not gamble with the faith of 140 million people.
(Onyewuotu can be reached via: +2347068991864)