President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday gave the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, the matching order to ensure that all registered Nigerians get their permanent voters card to enable them vote their preferred candidates in the February elections.
The President gave the order when he swore in the new INEC commissioner, Prof. Akinola Murtala Salau National Commissioner representing Oyo State and member of the commission.
Criticisms, lamentations and anger have continued to trail the distribution of the permanent voters cards (PVC) to Nigerians by INEC with many accusing the commission of deliberating planning to disfranchise them from voting in the coming elections.
This is even as Jega has responded that all registered Nigerians will get their PVC before the election date of February 14th.
President Jonathan said the whole world is on INEC to see if it can deliver credible elections, noting that a situation where Nigerians including highly placed individuals especially governors are complaining of not having their voters card was not acceptable.
Jonathan who said he was happy about the level of awareness of Nigerians demanding for their voters card, noted that before 2011 Nigerians did not care about voters card, but his administration as a result of its commitment and determination has sanitised the electoral process enough to raise awareness of Nigerians on their rights to vote.
The President who said no matter what the critic of his administration may say, they cannot take the glory ?of the sanitisation of the electoral process.
Jonathan who commended Salau’s impeccable character despite issues that prevented his being sworn in alongside others earlier, charged him to and go demonstrate why he is a person of impeccable character and deliver credible elections to Nigerians next month.
The President said, “?Prof. Salau deserves to be congratulated by all of you because this is somebody who should have resumed office long ago but because of some issues government stepped it down. These are the kind of people we want to put in INEC people with impeccable character.
“So Prof we want to charge you to go and demonstrate clearly that you are somebody with an impeccable character and that you will do good to all Nigerians irrespective of anything.
“INEC is suppose to be absolutely neutral is their work to conduct credible election because the whole world is watching INEC and you are coming into INEC at a very critical time with 40 days to election. So you are coming at a critical time that I believe the chairman who is here himself also need your services.
“I believe Professor Jega will even want to double the number of staff if he has the resources to make sure that they can cope. Because Nigerians are getting worried whether INEC can actually conduct elections. Talking about the PVC, even some governors are complaining that they are yet to get their PVC. If governors are yet to get their voters cards of course that means that so many Nigerians are yet to get and people are a bit worried.
“But to me I’m quite pleased not pleased in the negative sense, the awareness that has come on board that Nigerians want to have their voters cards. Before 2011 no Nigerian will complain about voters card and that’s why when some politicians talk I just laugh. Before 2011 how many Nigerians complained about not having voters card because elections were not conducted with voters cards. Nobody cared, we are all adults in Nigeria and we knew what was happening. But some people came on board and sanitized electoral process but others want to take the glory.
“We have to commend ourselves. That today ordinary Nigerians, biggest business men, religious leaders are complaining I want my voters card, nobody talked about that before 2011. So people should commend us and I’m please that people are talking about voters cards.
“So the chairman of INEC luckily you are here, all Nigerians must get voters cards, we cannot conduct an election where some people will not have the rights to vote. People must decide who rules them at all levels not just about presidential elections, at the lowest level of elections conducted by INEC – the state assembly elections, House of Representatives, Senate and Presidency all Nigerians must vote and INEC must do everything possible to make sure that all Nigerians have their voters card because we cannot afford a situation where some Nigerians will not vote that day.