From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Staunch supporters of the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Tony Okocha and Austin Opara, respectively, have complained about late arrival of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and voting materials at many of the different centres in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Okocha of APC also has tasked INEC on improving the performance of the BVAS machine, which is a new innovation.
He expressed: “I took my turn and presented myself for voting. The process was seemingly seamless though it was a bit delayed because of the BVAS machine and inability to capture fast.
He urged INEC to extend the time for the voting process, stressing that 8.30 to 2.30 is not good enough. Again given the situation we have in the country today, they should allow people to vote, extend it to 5pm.
“A period stipulated for the election 8.30am to 2.30pm and then the BVAS machine is unable to capture fast on one person, you will now know how many persons will be captured within the period under review.
“INEC should do enough more on the BVAS machine visa vis increasing the speed. The BVAS machine and all of those we appraised worked perfectly at the point when they were just being test run in two states.
“But, now that all the states are involved in the election, we are now seeing lapses. So, whatever it is, INEC will need to do better; that’s what they have told us.
He commended INEC for the introduction of BVAS machine which has tackled the issue of ballot snatching and voting materials.
“What I saw today, is an advancement to what used to be. At the field, I didn’t see anybody carrying the BVAS; I didn’t see ballot paper snatched away. It means that lastly, the people’s vote will count. If they actually try to make the BVAS machine a little faster, so that it can capture people.”
He commended that Nigerians for their participation notwithstanding the current cash swap policy and said let the best candidate emerge.
“The cash swap policy that we have in Nigeria is biting. The truth of the matter is that Nigerians are suffering. The people have shown some concern by coming out en mass to vote. That policy of new notes swapping is obnoxious, it never worked. My expectation is that a better candidate should win.”
Similarly, Opara of the PDP in a text message to one of the journalists, simply said: “It’s peaceful in Ph LGA (Port Harcourt City Local Government Area). The only problem is that voting stated late about 11.30am.