*Meeting ends in rancour
By Ndubuisi Michaels
The meeting between Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and national chairmen of 91 political parties on Monday snowballed into crisis over the accreditatio guideline allegedly produced by the Commission without the parties’ input.
The chairmen said at the meeting that the production of the guidelines without their input was done by the Commission to make rigging of the next election easier for it.
Mr. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) and national spokesperson of CUPP, said in a statement that: “Trouble started when Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, the national chairman of the Action Peoples Party (APP) and the spokesperson of IPAC and opposition CUPP interjected at the meeting to raise the alarm to the release of guidelines without the input of the chairmen and tampering of the clauses which led to applause from chairmen who supported his views.
“The issue raised was the tampering with the 2015 accreditation method which allowed accreditation separately and voting separately and the rejection of the new clause which provides for simultaneous accreditation and voting which the parties said will give room for a scanty polling unit that will aid rigging instead of the accreditation and voting separately which will keep the people behind as shield to resist rigging.
“The political parties also insisted that the commission must provide a form to record and announce accreditation and issue it out to the political parties before voting starts, to deter tampering with the results since accreditation has been known.
“Also the political parties demanded for the total number of PVC collected before the election and the removal of former corps members and federal civil servants from the list of INEC ad hoc staff. “On issue of ad hoc staff, the commission disowned the recruitment advert saying that INEC has not agreed on the criteria for ad hoc staff recruitment.
“The commission agreed to stop PVC collection a week to the next election and give out the numbers collected at the state level to the stakeholders.
“But the refusal of the Commission to shift ground on the issue of the tampering with the 2015 accreditation method and the introduction of simultaneous accreditation and voting for 2019 election led to the commotion that engulfed the meeting with shouts and fracas.
“The political parties accused INEC chairman of insincerity and planning to aid the rigging of the election, insisting that the political parties will not collaborate with him further or endorse the guideline until it is corrected and all the credible election threatening clauses removed.
“Earlier in the meeting a move to disrupt the meeting by pro-Buhari chairmen who wanted to stop IPAC chairman, Peter Ameh, from speaking with the tacit support of some INEC officials, were rebuffed with the few chairmen being bundled out of the meeting venue for the meeting to resume.
“The meeting has hit a stalemate now as the INEC chairman has refused to shift ground on the issue of the accreditation and voting process with tension rising and some chairmen threatening to stage a walk out.
The demands below led to the stalemate that hit the INEC meeting with political party…
URGENT AND CRUCIAL
2019 General Election Minimum Standards/Safeguards Political Parties/Key Election Stakeholders are Ready to Accept from INEC to Help Guarantee Free and Fair Polls.
In view of the refusal by President Buhari to sign the 2018 Amended Electoral Act which would have helped to strengthen the 2019 election (meaning we will be using the same laws used in 2015), the following minimum standard and safe guards become paramount to be adopted by INEC to help make 2019 free/fair:
DEMAND FOR RETENTION OF THE 2015 ACCREDITATION AND VOTING PROCEDURE AND REJECTION OF THE UNILATERAL MOVE BY INEC TO TAMPER WITH THE NATIONAL GUIDELINE TO INCLUDE SIMULTANEOUS ACCREDITATION/VOTING INSTEAD OF SEPARATE PERIODS FOR ACCREDITATION AND VOTING.
A: In order to secure the credibility of the 2019 election in view of the non-signing of the electoral law and usage of the same law used for the 2015 election that INEC must revert back and maintain the accreditation and voting procedure adopted during the 2015 election and enshrined under Section 8(a) of the 2015 election guideline which holds that there shall be separate periods for accreditation and voting.
B: The advantage of the retention of the 2015 accreditation method is that it will reduce the physical manipulation of the results at the pulling unit level as all voters who have been accredited will all be waiting for the separate commencement of voting which is better than the simultaneous accreditation/voting which leaves a few people at the polling unit thereby making it easy for manipulation and security intimidation.
C: NEW INTRODUCTION:
Provide Separate forms for recording and announcing of total number of accredited voters by 12/1pm close of accreditations before voting starts. This addition is to secure the credibility of electoral process by ensuring that once accreditation ends by 12/1pm the electoral staff announces the total accredited votes, enters it into a form and all-party agents sign and copies are issued out to the party agents who will all sign before the voting process starts. This is done to secure the electoral foundation and blocks tampering of result and snatching of materials because the total accredited votes evidence is already issued out and no manipulation can alter that as it is already in possession of the agents even before voting starts, the worse that can happen is that even if anybody wants to rig, his rigging plans will be limited inside the already known total number of accredited votes.
D: VIOLATION OF ECOWAS PROTOCOL BY INEC/NON-CONSULTATION OF STAKEHOLDERS.
The move to tamper with the National guideline and procedure for accreditation as used in 2015 to a new one few weeks to election violates ARTICLE 2 AND 3 OF THE ECOWAS PROTOCOL ON DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE which Nigeria is a signatory to and was also one of the reasons given by the Presidency for President Buhari not singing the amended Electoral Act. Article 2 of the protocol forbids Amendment to Electoral rules and guideline 6 months to election without consent of majority of political actors. Article 3 demands that the Electoral body must be neutral, have confidence of the political parties/actors and consult political parties/actors to arrive at guidelines/structures and bodies for the election. Note here that Political parties who are the major actors in the electoral process have not been consulted on any plan to change the method for accreditation. Also for the purposes of National election, INEC has not issued any National election guideline within the 6 months’ time limit to change the method for accreditation which means that the last known National method of accreditation for election is the 2015 method of separate period for accreditation and voting and not the simultaneous accredit/vote method that INEC is trying to experiment with at some failed bye elections and for the first time in a National election.
E: FINANCIAL IMPLICATION.
This form of accreditation is not of much burden as INEC already has the format of the EC8A/EC8VP which can be tinkered with to reflect the demands but even if they don’t want, they can still design a single page document which printing and minting companies can roll out in less than 10 days. INEC has surplus funds which would have been deployed into the e-voting/collation procedure assuming the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was signed and now the law was not
signed all the expenses that would have been carried out based on that law will no longer be done thereby saving some funds. All the budget left over from ballot papers printing because INEC will be working on total PVC collected and not on the total registered voters as not all registered voters can vote unless you have PVC. There are many sub-heads and miscellaneous provision funds in the INEC budget that can get the form printed.
Above all, separate forms or not for entering accreditation, availability of money to print a separate form or not etc, a reversal to 2015 accredit separate and vote separate is non-negotiable and the only way to reduce polling units vote manipulation and safeguard the polling units from been overrun by thugs or compromised security agents and does not require any money to do so.
DEMAND FOR ISSUANCE OF LIST OF PVC (PERMANENT VOTERS CARD) COLLECTED AND YET TO BE COLLECTED ON A POLLING UNIT, WARD, LGA, STATE AND NATIONAL BASIS.
In order to reduce the possibility of desperate politicians conniving with compromised INEC staff to hijack uncollected PVC and give to their supporters to come and vote which is now possible with the re-introduction of the incidence form inside the voters register which allows all PVC holders to vote once their name is in the register even when the card reader cannot recognise their finger print and also to avoid falsification of results which will exceed the total number of PVC collected in a particular area. This makes it imperative that INEC must agree on a date with political parties to release the final list of PVC collected and not collected on polling unit basis to help the parties have a total summary of the votes that is for the election since voting is on pvc possession alone, so that we know the number of people expected to vote which is not the same with the total number of registered voters. Also, a date for the close of the collection of the PVC must also be agreed and announced to Nigerians after which INEC issues the requested PVC collection data to the political parties.
LOOPHOLE FOR MANIPULATION OF 2019 INEC ADHOC STAFF RECRUITMENT PROCESS AND DEMAND FOR REMOVAL OF FEDERAL CIVIL SERVANTS AND FORMER YOUTH CORP MEMBERS.
This window will be used to bring in people with allegiance to some vested political interests. All measures to monitor the manipulation of the selection process must be put in place to avoid the Rivers State past scenario where card carrying members of a Political party were deployed as INEC Ad Hoc Staff.
INEC ADHOC RECRUITMENT 2019.
Those eligible to apply include:
A) Ex-corps members (2015 till date with photocopy of discharge certificate)
B) Staff of Federal ministries, department, agencies with photocopy of their appointment letter & I.D card
C) Students of federal tertiary institutions with more than one year to graduate with photocopy of admission letter & I.D card.
NB: original of documents are to be sighted at the point of submission
of application. All applications should be addressed to the ELECTORAL OFFICER & submitted to INEC office in your locality not later than 14th January 2019.
Breach of federal character in appointment of key sensitive committee for election. Logistics head is from the north and collation committee chaired by Amina Zakari is from North plus the INEC CHAIR and Police IGP which is doing policing for the election all from the North.
The transport committee has an almost 100 percent northern membership because the heads of the security agencies which have membership are from the North. Note also the head of the para-military agencies that are members of the committee is Dambazzau, who is the Interior Minister and also the Head of APC Presidential campaign security committee.
No membership or representative of the Political Parties platform/IPAC is in these committees. Also we demand for the rejig of the two main committees headed by northerners especially the Amina Zakari committee which is supposed to be headed by the commissioner in charge of Operation, Mr. Ibeanu because collation issues and its venue is operation issue.
Secret Polling Unit and demand for the list of the newly created polling units called voting point settlement and their locations and total numbers.
*Chairmen of 91 political parties addressing the press after a rancorous meeting the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu…in Abuja Monday, January 7, 2019