Delta State governorship candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru has demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission conduct a test run of the card readers to be used in the 2015 general elections, in a proper election environment before deploying them for the 2015 polls.
Chief Ogboru made this demand at an interactive press parley with newsmen at Grand Hotel, Asaba on Sunday, February8, 2015, in reaction to the postponement of the general elections by INEC from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11 respectively.
Chief Ogboru who is fondly called the ‘Peoples General’, by his teeming admirers argued that INEC cannot say it is genuinely prepared for the elections if it has not tested the card readers in a pilot programme under election conditions, adding that the Commission would have had a pilot test of the Card Readers in at least two different local government areas of the 36 states of the federal to ascertain their workability before the general elections.
“If INEC does not do a pre-trial test of the card readers then we are taking a grave risk on election day. The sensible thing to do is to test the machines so that the people that will use then on election day are satisfied that the machines will run smoothly,” he said.
The LP governorship candidate said there would be grave implications should the card readers fail on election day and while adding that the six weeks postponement should avail the commission the opportunity to restore its image by not only test-running the process but also putting measures in place to conduct free, fair and credible elections, even as he equally urged INEC to consider a Plan B, in the event that the Card readers fail to perform optimally, after so much money has been invested in the purchase.
“I am not bordered about the rescheduling of the elections, but I am worried about the N90 billion already invested in the process and the processes leading to the exercise,” Ogboru said.
He further said that, “For you to use any new technology in the magnitude that it is expected, in this case, the Card Readers, there has to be a test-run of the equipment to check whatever efficiency, effectiveness and poor outage in them. Without this important exercise done, that level of preparedness is doubtful”, he stressed.
The popular gubernatorial candidate noted that sufficient simulations has not been done by INEC in relation to the Card Readers and this is very necessary under election conditions with a sample population, saying that if the machines were not given a pilot test, there might be a situation where the Card Readers might malfunction on election day.
“The sensible thing that should be done, is to at least test-run it to give confidence to those who are going to use those machines such that everybody will have confidence that those machines are not only going to work but will work efficiently.
“It is an opportunity for INEC to do a test run in at least two local government councils in each state under election condition. That is the only time that we can now put our faith in these machines. That is, if the test run is successful but if that is not the case, if the test run fails, the question we will ask ourselves is should we actually use the machines?”, he pondered.
He also expressed worries that any election which employs the use of the Card Readers in some parts of the country while the old manual system is used in some other parts will eventually be described as non-credible and an outright failure as it lacks uniformity across board, adding that the excuse of security as reason for re-scheduling the elections may not be as critical as the efficiency of the card readers, since INEC has been bound constitutionally from further extending the date of the elections beyond the present dates it has fixed.
Ogboru, who also spoke on a number of wide ranging issues concerning his chances in the re-scheduled governorship elections in the state, affirmed that he is now the unquestionable candidate of the Urhobo Progressive Union, UPU, following his endorsement by the umbrella Pan-Urhobo socio political group, after wide and comprehensive consultations with monarchs, President Generals (PGs) of the 24 kingdoms, the youths and the women, before coming to settle on him as the sole consensus candidate.
Accepting the UPU endorsement as a wonderful act of political good fortune, the LP governorship candidate however stressed that he was seeking a Pan-Delta mandate and that while the endorsement affirmed the love and trust his people have for him, it should not be seen from an ethnic perspective as his desire is to be governor of the whole Delta State.
He then re-affirmed his confidence to coast home to victory in the forthcoming Delta governorship polls, noting that the UPU endorsement had already guaranteed his triumph in the Delta Central Local government areas and he was confident of securing the required votes and percentages in Delta North and South LGA’s to ensure his overall victory and emergence as the next governor of Delta State.
Chief Ogboru, who had earlier been on the campaign trail in Asaba before the press conference, was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Ebi Ogboru and a host of other top Labour Party big-wigs, including the Delta State Party Chairman, Chief Tony Ezeagwu and the Delta Central Senatorial Candidate Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, amongst others.