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We can’t be hostages of our fears-Jega

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The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega gave an overview of the election process on Saturday.

Overview: The chairman said that the election was generally peaceful.  He said there was no serious incident observed and even the North East where Boko Haram had ravaged in the past had a peaceful election and expressed happiness that the election in the internally displaced persons, IDP camps was successful. He said Nigerians have been patriotic.

He said man proposes and God disposes. He said despite their best efforts there were still challenges. He said there were challenges that gave a lot of concern not only to the public but also to INEC. He added that the failure of the card readers was of concern but that rate was not that high and as a result the process was reviewed to allow for manual accreditation where the card readers fail. He said in general, where there were challenges with the card readers, it is either it was not properly operated and will investigate why they failed. He said the failure rate of the card readers was low as the failure was in 350 units out of the 119,973 units across the nation.

He said they observed that officials were expected to be at the polling units by 7am but some did not arrive at the polling units until 1pm which necessitated the review and election will hold in those units on Sunday. He said the statistics was low.

ON the first family experience at the failed card readers to authenticate their fingers, the chairman said it was a national embarrassment and that INEC will investigate what happened.  He said that it is possible that the PVC may have been damaged. He added that apart from the failed card reader, everything in the President’s polling unit went smoothly. He said they did their best under the circumstance. He said the card readers added tremendous credibility to the process.

On Lateness: Prof. Jega said lateness of officials to the polling units was regrettable. He said the delay at the Federal Capital Territory was a fluke as the commission had an MOU with the transport unions but the drivers failed to take the officials to the polling units even against the agreement. He said he had to seek the intervention of the leadership of the union before the drivers agreed to take the officials from the wards to the polling units. He said it was regrettable.

On Result sheets: He said there was no single election unit where the election was postponed because of the absence of election result sheets. He said in Jigawa state the election was rescheduled to April 11 because there were no ballot boxes and they agreed with stakeholders in the state to shift the election. He also said that the election in Ethiope East and Ethiope West  in Delta state was rescheduled to April 11 because of the absence of ballot boxes. He added that in all 13 out of the 360 federal constituencies were rescheduled. He said this is an improvement over the 2011 election which had elections in 60 units rescheduled. He also said that in Niger state, 6 polling units will have their election tomorrow and accreditation will start at the same time.

INEC site Hacked: He confirmed that the web site was hacked by 11.24am and by 11.57am they were able to restore the site. He said they had to create a new platform. He added that the data base was not affected.

Results: he said in 2011 the results were released in 48 hours and that they hope to do better this year. He said that it is not sacrosanct that the election results will be announced within 48 hours but it was merely expressing their hope based on previous performance.

On the whole process: He said they have learnt their lessons from the challenges of the election and that we must not be held hostage by our own fears. He said despite the challenges the card readers and the PVCs added credibility to the election process.

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