The Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has expressed alarm over the ongoing voters registration exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos .
Rising from a meeting on Tuesday at their state secretariat in Jibowu, Yaba, Lagos DPA leaders noted that the exercise was characterised by hoarding of voters’ cards, favouritism towards members of the ruling Action Congress (AC) and frustration of known supporters of rival political parties.
Lagos DPA made these observations in a statement by Director of Publicity Felix Oboagwina, and expressed fears that going by feedback on the registration exercise so far, Lagos was miles away from a credible, free and fair election in 2011.
The party specifically mentioned the case of Shomolu Local Council, where it said it received reports that INEC officials attended to only members of the Action Congress (AC) while other citizens were sometimes asked to pay money before getting new cards.
“We have been inundated with complaints from community leaders that several registered voters who submitted their temporary voters’ slip and were told to return later to collect permanent voters’ cards ended up frustrated.
When they returned to collect the laminated permanent cards as instructed, registration officials told them that the slips they originally submitted could not be found,” DPA said. “We sincerely hope that the intention of seizing those cards is not part of the grand plan of INEC Lagos to disenfranchise the electorate.”
The party lamented that the incidents formed part of a grand plan to make elections in Lagos fraudulent as usual.
“It is a pity that we are travelling the same dishonest road that we have travelled before, the same path that resulted in heavily flawed elections in April 2007 and October 2008 to the advantage of a particular party in Lagos State ,” the party said.
According to the party, in several places, attempts by Lagosians who have reached the mandatory voting age of 18 to register afresh or exchange their paper slips for permanent cards were frustrated because INEC officials failed to show up at registration points.
It urged the Commission to call its personnel to order and stop the downward slide into electoral manipulation, chaos and disenchantment.
“Any politician knows that electoral rigging begins with the registration of voters. Once they have that pinned down, then all other rigging plans simply fall into place and the election is as good as cooked,” the party said. “A cooked voters’ register will encourage the hiring of ECOMOG voters, double voting and fake results. When heartless politicians heap the register with fake voters for which they have cards in waiting, then they can recruit mercenaries on a cash-and-carry basis on Election Day. They can also inflate votes in low-density polling zones.”
The party urged the Commission to ensure that it put machinery in place to frustrate any collusion between INEC staffers and unscrupulous politicians.
In the words of the party: “These are the antics of criminally-minded politicians –politicians who play do-or-die politics, politicians who want to be in office at all costs, who have no respect for the wish and the mandate of the people and who have no programme for enhancing the people’s welfare. And it is unfortunate that they have bought over some INEC personnel.”