It has emerged that the position of the security services advising against the conduct of the 2015 elections in February was actually a lifeline handed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which was ill-prepared to conduct the elections this month.
A Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) assigned to one of the northern states, who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, said the advice by the security chiefs and the National Security Adviser (NSA) to defer the elections because of the security situation in the North-east gave INEC the much needed breather to prepare adequately for the polls.
He said contrary to reports that 21 of the RECs had opposed the postponement of the polls during their meeting at the weekend with the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, that was not the case, as all they did was to give him situational reports on each of the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.
The INEC REC further revealed that the training and simulation exercises for INEC officials and thousands of ad hoc staff on how to use the card readers for the permanent voters’ cards during the polls had not been conducted.
“The training manual is not ready while simulations for the card readers have not been conducted. Our personnel and ad hoc staff do not know how to use the card readers, and some that have been tested were not working.
“Apart from this, over 23 million registered voters had not picked up their cards; that is about 34 per cent of registered voters. So were we going to disenfranchise them under the pretext that not all of them would vote?
“It is not INEC’s responsibility to dwell on voter apathy. Ours is to ensure that all cards get to the voters. Whether they turn out to vote or not is their prerogative, not that of INEC,” he said.
The REC said Jega had not been entirely honest when he made his presentation to the Council of State last week on the preparedness of the electoral commission for the polls.
“We were far from being ready and had we proceeded with our state of unpreparedness in February, we would have faced greater challenges than what we encountered during the 2011 general election when we were forced to postpone the elections by two weeks.
“So the insecurity in the North-east has offered INEC a lifeline to get its act together and sort out most, if not all, pending issues before the polls start on March 28,” he said.