INEC: No Card Reader, No Election in 2019


By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said the 2019 election would only be conducted with the use of card reader, saying “no card reader, no election.”

A top official of the commission who spoke with THISDAY in Abuja, said the card reader would help the commission in three ways, including gelling to confirm that the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs)  were issued by INEC; that the biometrics of the holder are correct, and that the identity of the holder is authenticated through  the fingerprints.

The senior official stated that the commission was set to upgrade the status of the card readers such that whatever was experienced in the past is not replicated.

The official added that part of the challenges the commission had in 2015 was the violence unleashed on the card reader during the election, saying that in the Rivers State alone, the commission lost 1,321 card readers during that election.

Speaking on the 30,000 polling units, the source said the commission had ruled out the possibility of creation of 30,000 new polling units before the 2019 election.

The official, who spoke on condition of strict anonymity, said the commission had since ruled out the possibility of creating any new polling units before the 2019 election.

He said though the commission was able to uncover through its checks that a lot of communities and settlements had outgrown the current number of polling units in the country, the controversy created around the plan, made some Nigerians to misconstrue the intention.

The official cited the example of Gwarinpa Estate I Abuja, which he described as the largest estate in Africa but which he said has only nine polling units, stressing that such instances  abound across the nation.

He added: “One thing the commission has ruled out is the possibility of creating new polling units before the 2019 elections. No polling units will be created before the 2919 elections. If you create polling units, you have to populate them, then it will create confusion and you will have to replace the voters cards.”

The source further stated that what the commission has resolved to do is to decongest the existing polling units by creating voting points where voters exceed 500 in a particular point.

He said prior to the administration of Prof. Attahiru Jega in INEC, the commission had no record of the number of the polling units in the country but that the audit conducted under the previous INEC Chairman yielded 119,793 polling units, stressing that the commission would not add any unit to that existing units before the 2019 elections.

According to him, “Under Jega, the commission conducted an audit of all polling units. Before then, some polling units were located in shrines and different places. But with the audit, we now have 119,973 polling units across the country and there is no more obscure polling units nationwide.”