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Lagosians can collect their cards this weekend, INEC Rec confirms to Fashola

…As Governor advises INEC to demonstrate workings of Card Readers, Voting Process at meeting of all political parties, Stakeholders in Lagos

Residents of Lagos State have the opportunity to collect their Permanent Voters Card in any of the 8,462 polling units this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) from 8.30am to 5.30 p.m the State’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Akin Orebiyi has confirmed.

Responding to a question from the State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, on the arrangements put in place to make this possible, Mr Orebiyi said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
has deployed its staffers to all the polling units to distribute the Permanent Voters Cards to residents.

The INEC REC said the Commission will also consider a possibility of extending the collection at the 8,462 Polling Units for next weekend, urging residents not to wait till the deadline to avail themselves of the opportunity to get the cards.

The Governor after witnessing a live demonstration of the workings of the INEC Card Reader by the State REC, Mr. Akin Orebiyi, also advised the Commission to consider calling a meeting of all political parties
and stakeholders to let them know how the process works.

The Governor who spoke at the interactive session which took place at the Lagos House, Ikeja in the presence of some members of the State Executive Council, added that if such a meeting is organized, it would ensure a sensitization of the populace and the average voter.

He also advised that INEC should consider a simulation of the voting process and voting point at such a meeting such that the people would have a firsthand experience of the workings of the card readers before Election Day.

He emphasized that such a meeting or forum if convened by INEC would make the envisaged timing projection for the accreditation of voters with the card readers feasible.

Governor Fashola gave a commitment to monitor the situation as it unfolds and would always keep the Commission informed if there are new developments about how the advocacy is trickling down to the
grassroots.

The State INEC REC who also fielded questions from the members of the Executive Council present said he came to demonstrate the workings of the Card Readers to the Governor of the State so that once the support of the helmsman is received, the desired requisite public campaign can follow it, making it trickle down to the grassroots.

He said since INEC is deploying the device for the first time for accreditation in elections, the Commission believes that the people need to have a first hand experience and knowledge of how it works.

He also solicited the support of the State Government in ensuring that the message about the ease with which the Card Readers works trickle down to all the prospective voters.

He reiterated that the Card Readers will only function with INEC issued Permanent Voters Cards in the designated polling units that they have been configured to work in, adding that any INEC PVC that is brought from outside a designated polling unit will not be read by the card reader.

Mr. Orebiyi who was assisted by the deputy Head of ICT at the INEC Office in Lagos, Mr Muyiwa Yussuf during the demonstration, said about two thirds of the card readers have already been configured for
deployment to the fields.

He said the issue of fake cards or cloned cards being used to vote would not arise as the INEC has already taken care of that by ensuring that card readers are married to the PVC and cannot accommodate any
other cards.

Mr. Orebiyi who also gave an update on the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards in the state, said a total of 3, 693,000 PVCs have been distributed out of the total of 5.5 Million PVCs collected from Abuja.

He said the State INEC office still has a total of 1.8 Million PVCs yet to be collected, adding that the INEC Office is also still awaiting the delivery of another 430,000 PVCs from next week.

Mr. Orebiyi while responding to a question on what precisely should be the proper way to store a  PVC, said the micro chips are embedded but that it should not be bent if kept in the back pocket but should be
stored with care.

Speaking on what is the best way to get a thumb prepared for authentication on the Card Readers, the INEC REC said the thumb or index finger should be clean from dirt or oil before attempting to authenticate.

He also said voters register would be made use of on the election date to confirm what the card readers has brought up in terms of each accredited voter, adding that there are a number of back up card readers in case they are snatched or stolen or damaged.

He explained that the accreditation exercise would still be accomplished within the time frame allocated which is between 8 a.m and 1p.m because it is expected that there would be an average of 350 to 400 people at each polling unit and that it would take just a minute for a voter to be accredited for voting.

Orebiyi said in the past; turn up at polling units had always been between 30 to 40 percent but that even if over 60 percent of the voters turn up, INEC believes that they can all be accredited before the 1p.m deadline.

The Deputy Director of ICT, INEC Lagos, Mr. Muyiwa Yussuf who also responded to some of the questions, said it is impossible to jam the network of the card readers to prevent them from functioning and that
it is only the administrators who know the IP address that could contemplate such.

On the possibility that the card readers can be reconfigured between the intervals that they are configured and taken to the fields, Mr. Yussuf said only an administrator in the main office can reconfigure and that when it is deployed they are deployed to staffers on the fields, they can only access as users and not administrators.

He also said the battery life of the smart card readers is 12 hours and that it takes less than one hour for it to be fully charged with Mr. Orebiyi interjecting that the Card Readers are currently at 60 percent charge level but would all be taken to the 245 racks across the state a day before the election to be fully charged before deployment.

In an interview with State House Correspondents after the demonstration, the INEC REC, Mr. Akin Orebiyi said accreditation and voting cannot go on simultaneously because the Commission wants the accreditation to end at the same time nationwide and also ensure that voting exercise starts at the same time to prevent any form of electoral malpractice.

Responding to a question about the protest of some non-indigenes about inability to collect their PVCs, Mr. Orebiyi said INEC has looked through its register, distribution and collection and has seen that
the collection was done practically by every Nigerian who registered in Lagos.

“We have conducted our investigations, we did not register on the basis of ethnic groups and we are also not distributing the cards on the basis of ethnic groups. If indeed there are issues of delays in collecting cards in some parts of the state where perhaps non-indigenes populate or live, it is not a deliberate act”, he stated.

He reiterated that the Commission is still expecting 430,000 cards and believes that the agitated card owners could be among the ones coming from Abuja, adding that the INEC register has shown that all Nigerians from all walks of life have been collecting their cards.

“It is not a policy of INEC to isolate one particular area or group or deny some people of their cards. Many INEC staff are non- indigenes, 5 out of out 20 Electoral Officers are non- indigenes. Out of all the
Assistant Electoral Officers, 45 percent are non- indigenes. The head of Voter Education is from South East. My deputy is from the South-South. I am from South West but married to a South Easterner. We
should discourage people from peddling such dangerous stories. We are all Nigerians”, he explained.

Those who joined the Governor during the demonstration process include members of the State Executive Council like the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, Commissioners for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, Agriculture and Cooperatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, Local Government Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Ademorin Kuye, Rural Development, Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi and Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Raji.

 

SIGNED

HAKEEM BELLO

SPECIAL ADVISER TO H.E ON MEDIA

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