President Goodluck Jonathan says only the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, can explain the failure that attended the voter card readers in several parts of the country during Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
The President, who was responding to questions from newsmen after casting his vote in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, however, noted that he would not blame Jega for noticeable lapses in the electoral process as government is a whole institution of which INEC is only a component.
While evading questions that have to do with the conduct of the election, Jonathan insisted that he would rather allow Jega to speak for INEC.
In congratulating all those who have voted and would still vote for the patience they are exhibiting, the President said, “INEC wants to use the card readers to make sure that our electoral process is credible and acceptable by international observers. Somehow, being the first time we are practising with the card readers, there have been some issues in some units, but please bear with them. I believe at the end of the day, we all will be happy.”
When asked how the process had fared across the country, he said, “I have information but it is not all the information I have that I can say because INEC has the responsibility to talk about their own functions.
“The basic thing is that a number of places complained about the PVCs and card readers not working at the same time. INEC has directed that at voting units where the card readers are not working, they should take the manual option so I believe all Nigerians who want to vote will definitely vote and that is good news.
“The only thing is that some people must have stayed there longer than necessary, but I still plead with them that even if they spend 24 hours for the sake of this country, they should bear with us.
“I’m not putting blame on INEC, the government is one. I don’t blame INEC, judiciary, police, soldiers and executives. I am the president of the country. As a nation, we have different departments that handle responsibility. The issue of elections is INEC’s exclusive responsibility and nobody will speak for them. Even if I have some information, I cannot speak for INEC. Jega is the only one that can speak for INEC. I speak for the federal government.”
Regarding what he thinks are his chances of the election, he said: “I am very hopeful. You are here in my very home and you have seen that it is peaceful everywhere. I believe and I’m convinced that the elections will be free and fair.
“I don’t think the issue of the card readers are limited to my local government. If the card readers are not working, it is not limited to Bayelsa state. We have similar issues in Anambra state. In fact, the governor in Anambra state called and was boiling. I told him to calm down.
“We have similar issue in Delta state. I am aware that INEC has directed the RECS that in places that the card readers are not working, they should take the manual option. If the card readers are not working, definitely they will use the manual option. I don’t think it is limited to PDP-controlled states; I think it is national,” he said.