NIGERIAN INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION URGED TO START AWARENESS CAMPAIGN ON ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEM

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Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been urged to quickly start an awareness campaign on the electronic voting system which the Commission chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, says will be used for the 2007 general elections to ensure its success.

A non-governmental organisation, Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) led by the Rev Fr Martins Onukwuba made the call yesterday in Onitsha while briefing reporters on the activities and programmes of the body.

Rev. Onukwuba who described the electronic voting system as alien to Nigerians was of the view that an early education of the electorate would ensure the success of the planned voting system.

Also speaking in the same vein, former National Legal Adviser of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and former Chairman of Ezeagu local government, Ozo Joe Mmamel said the electronic voting system was a welcome development if only the implementers would be sincere in carrying out their duties.

"The government has been tinkering with a lot of things that has eroded the confidence of Nigerians. The electronic voting system is good but how sincere can Nigerians make sincere system to work. That is why everybody is skeptical about 2007 polls".

Mmamel however, called on the electoral body to adopt option A-4 voting system, saying it was the only way the peoples' already eroded confidence could be restored.

"Everything is not whether the system (electronic voting system) will work but the confidence of the people. What happened in 2003 general election eroded the confidence of the people in election. They no longer believe in elections".

He added that, "the only thing I have seen that has worked in this country is option A-4. People don't go to court under this method of voting. It is a game of head count like the census count.

It is less expensive, the best form of democracy, the will of the people and the only way to restore the peoples confidence in elections".

Onukwuba said that should INEC fail to immediately start public education on the planned electronic voting system come 2007, non-governmental organizations and other agencies that are currently planning for the monitoring of the 2007 polls would be left in the dark.

"We are already planning for the monitoring of the polls but we do not know what method of voting. Things have to be defined properly for you to know what you are doing. 2007 is really a turning point for Nigerians. Everybody seems to be interested."

The Vanguard