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PDP’s Deadly Fight With Jega, Card Readers And PVCs By Peter Claver Oparah

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PDP, that party that basks in the self-adulation of the largest party in Africa is deeply troubled. It is assailed and rattled because it fears its tenancy in power is running to an end. It allotted itself sixty years to rule Nigeria. It even feels it will stay in power till eternity. It was so self assured of its durability that it deigned nothing as capable of stoping its stay in power. It made a dance of its potency.

It made a ballad of its strength and was so confident that nothing will ever threaten its hold on power in Nigeria. For its self assumed sagacity, PDP ride roughshod over every person, over every institution and over any interest in Nigeria. It dared whoever has the guts to stop it and was won’t to dedicate to God its periodic renewal of strength through shambolic elections. With a disgusting arrogance, it was wont to tell those aggrieved by its unscrupulous means at every election to go to court- and they know why it said that: the courts were vassals on PDP’s mighty feet.

This scenario prevailed before the coming of the APC. The formation of the APC met PDP at its delirious best. Its members laughed off the APC as a spit that will percolate in the next minute. They wagered that the APC will not survive the rudimentary meeting stages by the legacy parties that came together to form it. Indeed, Doyin Okupe, the massive-frame hatchet hand of the Jonathan regime was to thunder that if APC survived two months, that he should be called a bastard. I don’t know whether he relishes his self-naming today but that is topic for another day. But the APC was to outlive the skepticism of the PDP at its earlier stages and was to even survive the booby traps the PDP laid on paths, to stymie its development. An instance of these booby traps was the facilitation of the registration of a poor clone of APC by hirelings that were linked to the PDP so as to deny the original APC its acronym.

So the APC survived the gestation period and has lived to scare the living nightmare out of PDP, as we are seeing today. From poaching deeply into the vaults of the PDP and offering a shade for hitherto undecided Nigerians who neigh for a formidable platform to give the arrogant PDP a fight for its life, the APC has come to displace the PDP as the dominant party leading to the fast ensuing general elections. What more, the PDP that once basked as an impregnable unitary party in Nigeria today lives in haplessly trailing the APC, hauling tantrums, brickbats and innuendoes in its trail, like a distraught village hag. PDP today is like a worsted opposition and its present campaign of hell and brimstone when it should be advertising its achievements in power, tells of a PDP that has been wracked silly by APC’s rambunctious challenge to power.

With the election fast approaching, the PDP is a heavily troubled house. If it and its purchased cronies are not heckling on Jega for no known substantial reason, they are quarreling with the innocuous electoral process. It was so bad that the PDP was so scared that it literally bludgeoned INEC to shift the election originally scheduled for February 14 to March 28. Ten days to the sameMarch 28, PDP creates a picture of a disoriented, disgruntled and harassed junior partner in the electoral contest. It is practically in opposition with itself as it tries every trick to remain in power, against the obvious resolve of Nigerians to end its arrogant and highly unproductive stay in power.

Leading to the election, PDP has come up with strange and queer demands that question its own readiness for election. PDP wants Jega, yes its own Jega, removed even on the eve of elections yet so far, it had failed to articulate any coherent reason for its strange demand. For this, it has gone on an extensive mobilization binge to recruit and arm its cronies to mount a disturbing demand for Jega’s removal. When pressed for reasons, all one gets is how Jega has decided to rig the coming election for APC. When pressed for substantiation of such allegation, all you get is a syndicated cacophony of ‘Jega must go’. However, it is not difficult to guess why PDP wants Jega out at all costs: the Jega of 2011 is not the Jega of 2015. The Jega of 2011 was a pliant fresher in the electoral body who could not withstand the pressure to call very doubtful electoral returns for the PDP. The Jega of 2015 is a man that has matured in the system and who wants to leave a legacy that does not favour anybody but the country’s farcical electoral system. The Jega of 2015 wants to leave a legacy of credible election and PDP doesn’t fancy its chances in a free, fair and credible election so Jega must give way for a pliable puppet that will be trusted to do the electoral bidding of the PDP.

The weapons Jega has introduced to ensure a free and credible election are the card reader and the permanent voters card (PVC). Both are programmed in a symbiotic interface to ensure that votes cast at each election are actual votes cast by real Nigerians, as it ought to be. For this, the card reader authenticates the validity of PVCs on Election Day and ensures that ghosts and fakes don’t rob real Nigerians the opportunity to decide who governs them as has been hitherto the case. On Election Day, the PVC is swiped in a card reader and the fingerprints imputed to decide if a PVC rightly belongs to the bearer. If the card belongs to someone else or was cloned, the card reader rejects it and announces so. Whoever is authenticated is issued with the permit to vote. That simply is the work of the card reader.

It really confounds why anybody should oppose the card reader and PVCs and so ferociously as the high and low in PDP are doing at present. It is the reason why they want Jega out by every means because he stood solidly on having such anti- rigging devices enforced in the coming election. Let us recall that PDP senators went to the Senate to canvass for dumping of card readers and PVCs. They said using them amounts to electronic voting, which they said our laws forbid. By such strange argument, the computers used in capturing the data and register Nigerians also tantamount to electronic voting. But Jega was to debunk this position when he went to the senate to not only demonstrate the practicability of card readers but to state that card readers are only for accrediting voters and not voting proper.

Let us also recall that the Vice President, Namadi Sambo was to make a curious demand for the dropping of card readers and PVCs on very unconvincing reasons that they may fail. Let us also remember that the PDP governors forum met recently in Lagos, where, after the rehearsal of their traditional platitudes against Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, they said they want INEC to discard card readers and PVCs and use temporary voters cards for the coming election! I don’t know if it ever occurred to them that Nigerians have swapped their TVCs for the PVCs.

Several shadowy groups and briefcase political parties have been mobilized to make this strange demand, in line with the wishes of the PDP for whom they are working. Some have even gone to court to stop the use of card readers and PVCs and one begins to wonder what really are the grouse of PDP and its allied interests with card readers? Nigerians want to know what interests of PDP stand to be violated or precariously affected by subjecting voters card to fool-proof verification, as card readers intend to do. We want to know how the card reader will favour the APC over and above the PDP that it had mounted such elaborate campaigns to discredit it and the Jega that insist on them.

Since the syndicated and programmed campaign against Jega, card readers and PVCs started, Jega’s INEC has gone extra miles to practically shove PVCs to the hands of a Nigerians and has achieved an impressive more than 80 per cent collection rate for PVCs, ran a national test run of the card readers and got a 90 per cent success rate and has procured and deployed several thousands of card readers all over the federation while answering pertinent concerns arising from the test run and other posers raised by those that seek further understanding of the card reader technology. Apart from the APC, the civil society, election observers, international monitors, media, credible interest groups have applauded the device as well as INEC’s demonstrated commitment to a credible election. But the PDP and its allied interest are sulking and pushing frantically that Jega must go and these devices abrogated for an election that is assured to be guided to return PDP to power.

With PDP not advancing any plausible reason for its opposition to card readers, one is left with no option than to believe the position that is gaining ground across Nigeria that the PDP has cloned and mopped up millions of cards with which it hopes to rig the coming election and knowing that the card reader will frustrate this plot and the realists of the foolhardiness of their action has seen it ranged in mortal war with an innocuous gadget that will ensure credible elections. It is gaining traction that PDP’s life depend on the decision of INEC to use card readers and PVCs so it is taking the fight against card readers, PVCs and the Jega that stubbornly insists in using these anti rigging devices as a life and death battle. There is a general assumption that PDP doesn’t really bank on its acceptability with Nigerians and needs such sleight of hand to continue in power. There is a general belief that PDP predicates its electoral victories on unilaterally taking advantage of the electoral process to swing dubious victories that allow it remain in power, even when majority of Nigerians believe the contrary. It is generally shared that PDP mopped up voters cards it ought not have mopped up and hopes to use same to rig the coming election. Equally, it is being passed around that the PDP has cloned not less than 20 million fake PVCs from the PIN numbers it had been collecting nationwide and that the card reader will be an impregnable fortress against PDP’s plan to use these fake cards in the coming election.

I think it behooves PDP to debunk these claims by either advancing genuine and convincing reasons for its late demand for the change of an election umpire at the very eve of a critical election. PDP needs to update Nigerians with genuine demerits it stands to suffer from INEC use of card readers in the coming election. It needs to tell Nigerians the exclusive harms that stands to befall it with the use of card readers and PVCs. They need to carry other Nigerians along or do they think the electoral process is theirs to tamper and build in their exclusive preferences? PDP needs to tell Nigerians why it feels that temporary voters cards should be resurrected and used alongside PVCs thereby negating the great need for credibility in the electoral process. PDP needs to tell Nigerians convincing reasons why it desperately wants a return to the sham electoral processes we have been slaving under but which, of course, assures PDP of victory at every turn. The burden is on PDP to demonstrate that its opposition to Jega and his anti rigging devices is not borne out of the desperation to infuse the millions of cards it had allegedly cloned and mopped up into the election with a view to compromising the integrity of the elections. The PDP and its allies need to convincingly assure Nigerians that its present agitation to sack Jega and drop the card readers is not informed by the widely held suspicion that it cannot survive a free and fair process. It needs to convince Nigerians on these!

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