By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Thursday called for the convocation of a stakeholders meeting by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the issue of alleged buying of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) by politicians ahead of the February 2019 polls.
The stakeholders meeting which, according to Saraki, should be called as soon as possible by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, should have the sole aim of formulating plans and ideas on how to render useless the intention of politicians who Yakubu claimed are buying PVCs.
The Senate President while reacting to a statement credited to the INEC boss that some politicians were already scheming to purchase PVCs, urged Yakubu not to stop at raising the alarm but immediately devise water-tight arrangement to make futile the efforts of such unscrupulous politicians.
Saraki, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, declared that all stakeholders must come up fast with a solution to render useless the antics of those who intend to procure voter cards.
According to him, “We all need to put our heads together and I am sure that such a stakeholders’ meeting will not only nip in the bud the looming danger, it will also engender general confidence in the system and create a system in which all stakeholders become problem solvers.”
He added that in the next six weeks preceding the first set of elections and immediately after the elections, it was important for INEC to devise an arrangement in which it would constantly consult with stakeholders to identify issues affecting the process and how to find joint solutions to them.
Saraki emphasised that buying of PVCs by politicians as alleged by the INEC chairman constitutes a major threat to the successful conduct of the 2019 polls, as it can become the single factor to decide where victory swings in the election.
“We have continued to maintain that manipulation of election results does not start and end on election day. It starts long before the day and goes on even after the declaration of results. That is why we have to continually be vigilant and once we identify any threat to free, fair and transparent conduct of a credible election like the INEC chairman has done, all stakeholders must put heads together to block the loopholes,” he said.