John Shiklam in Kaduna
Local government elections in Kaduna State, slated for May 12, 2018, will still hold in spite of last Saturdayâ€™s fire incident that gutted some offices of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECOM).
Chairperson of the commission, Dr. Saratu Binta Dikko, announced this at an emergency meeting with all the political parties in the state.
She said however that Smart Card Readers (SDR) would not be used for the election as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would not be able to make the SDR available.
Dikko stated that Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) would be used and verified through the voters register during the election.
But the major political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were not disposed with the decisions of the electoral body.
The PDP was particularly not comfortable with the decision to conduct the council polls without card readers.
State Secretary of the PDP,Â Ibrahim Wusono, alleged that it is a grand design by the APC to rig the elections
He said: â€œConducting the elections without card readers is not acceptable to us in PDP. The card readers must be made available during the election.â€
The APC on its part called for the postponement of the elections because of its forthcoming national convention in Abuja.
Acting state Secretary of the party, Yahaya Baba-Pate, noted that the timing was not good enough as the National Convention of the APC will come up two days after the scheduled polls
â€œWe in the APC are calling for the postponement of the election because of the APC national convention coming up on May 14.
â€œIt has been the tradition nationwide that whenever there is national event, the state event has to step down for the national event, therefore, we are calling onÂ KAD-SEICOM to postpone the election to enable stakeholders prepare for the national convention,â€ Pate said.
But the commission boss explained that they had started talking to INEC about card readers about two years ago when she was planning for the elections.
â€œWe were shocked to get a letter from INEC that it would not be able to provide us with the card readers because it was preparing for 2019 elections.
â€œINEC cannot hold us back, so we have to go ahead with our own election as scheduled.
â€œIf there is anybody here that can convince INEC to give us the card readers, we will appreciate it.
â€œHowever, we are going to use electronic voting machine which is one of the sensitive materials,â€ she said.
Dikko maintained that there was no reason to postpone the elections because of the national convention of the APC, noting that the two events are not holding on the same day.
She admitted that althoughÂ some of the election materials were destroyed in the inferno, the remaining Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) would be adequate for the conduct of the elections.