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2011: ELECTRONIC VOTERS' REGISTRATION NOT THE SOLUTION – FORMER REC

By NBF News
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The former Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in Abia State, Chief Jacob Nwakpa has picked holes in recent moves by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega to procure electronic voters' registration machine. He described it as an effort in futility.

Nwakpa who spoke to Daily Su n in his Abakaliki, contended that the challenges facing the INEC was not in the registration of voters manually or through the electronic machines, but in the orientation of the voters.

He maintained that INEC under Professor Jega should have continued with the manual voters' registration, arguing that the major problem facing the body during the registration bothered on illiteracy on the part of the masses.

'The problem there is enormous. In fact, you have the challenges of inadequate logistics to conduct elections. At times, the human errors take the upper hand because it is just like asking how many people are computer literate to collect particulars of those they are registering as voters,' the former REC argued.

Nwakpa also said some of the problems that might trail the electronic voters' registration exeruie might be that some of the officials might register some voters without their particulars and other errors that might bring criticisms to the system.

'Sometimea, you may have people whose photographs will appear without their data or data without their photographs and that can be a very big problem. Ours was the period when we started computerization; it posed a great challenge on the side of the voters.

I think we are in a hurry to embrace electronic voters, registration because we had expected that the new INEC should have continued with the manual registration, to know how it works out during the election.'

Apart from his own view about the move to computerize the voters' registration by INEC, Nwakpa who had also served as REC in Anambra, Akawa Ibom, Sokoto and Ogun states also said INEC still have some problems ahead.

'I can hear the new Chairman talking about this new registration. Well, I am not going to be pessimistic; I think I am optimistic he is going to do something bigger that what was done before. But he should not underestimate the challenges.

The problems are still there and until they are dealt with, they will always be there,' he said.

He also revealed that he was under intense pressure from his people to contest the Ebonyi Central Senatorial seat in the forthcoming election in 2011, adding that he was still consulting with relevant stakeholders in his area.

On the issue that there was a law precluding the former Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) from participating in partisan politics, Chief Nwakpa said the law was re-billed to favour them to participate in elections.

'I was a member of a political party before I was made a REC. I was not precluded from being a REC because I belonged to a political party; in fact by the constitution of 1999, anybody who was not a member of a political party was not qualified to be a REC.

By the decree No 17 and 33 of 1998 INEC establishment decree and its amendment in decree 33, commissioners were precluded from partisen politics until after 5 years they have left office'

He however, said the makers of the law later did a re-think in Section 165 of electoral act 2006, where they said 'the two decrees were re-billed and they ceased to be law in the country and so, no body is precluded from participating in politics even if you left office yesterday' Nwakpa noted.