Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki is asking the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to immediately convene a meeting of stakeholders ahead of next month’s general elections.
Top on the agenda of this meeting, Saraki says, should be the formulation of plans and ideas that will render useless the intention of politicians who he claims are buying Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in preparation for rigging the election.
Saraki brought up the proposal while reacting to a statement credited to Prof. Yakubu. The INEC boss had disclosed that some politicians were already scheming to purchase PVCs ahead of the vote.
Saraki would rather the INEC boss stops raising alarms but instead devise water-tight arrangements to bring to futility “the efforts of such unscrupulous politicians”.
In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Senate President said the development constitutes a major threat to the successful conduct of the 2019 Polls as it can become the single factor that will decide where victory swings in the election.
“We have continued to maintain that manipulation of election results does not start and end on Election Day. It starts long before the day and goes on even after the declaration of results.
That is why we have to continually be vigilant and once we identify any threat to free, fair and transparent conduct of a credible election like the INEC chairman has done, all stakeholders must put heads together to block the loop-holes.
“All stakeholders must come up fast with a solution to render useless the antics of those who intend to procure voter’s cards. We all need to put our heads together and I am sure that such a stakeholders meeting will not only nip in the bud the looming danger, it will also engender general confidence in the system and create a system in which all stakeholders become problem solvers”, he stated.
He added that in the next six weeks preceding the first set of elections and immediately after the elections, it was important for INEC to devise an arrangement in which it would constantly consult with stakeholders to identify issues affecting the process and how to find joint solutions to them.
Vote buying by paying off voters for their PVCs was a recurring theme during recently concluded state elections in Ekiti and Osun.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is a member of the opposition PDP. He also heads the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign organization.
Mr. Abubakar is President Muhammadu Buhari’s most formidable opponent ahead of the February 16 presidential election.