Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai has said that the exit from the All Progressive Congress (APC) of members of the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) who have issued an ultimatum within which to be called for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over their grievances will not have any impact on Buhari’s electoral fortunes in 2019.
Speaking after a meeting with the president at the presidential villa, Abuja on Tuesday, he said the president will win Kwara, Kano, Sokoto and Adamawa states believed to be the strongholds of the nPDP group.
He recalled that the states had fallen to Buhari in previous elections and 2019 will be not different even if the nPDP actors quit the ruling party.
When told that the group’s exit could harm the president political fortunes, the governor said: “I don’t agree and I want to go back to 2003. What are we talking about? Who are these new PDP people that are threatening? This is Kwara, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa, Rivers but I don’t think (Rotimi) Amaechi is part of them. So, let’s take these four states, go back to 2003 and check.
“Buhari then under ANPP won in all these four states. Go back to 2007, Buhari won in these four states. Even when (Ibrahim) Shakarau was running as a presidential candidate in 2011, Buhari defeated him in Kano.
“And, I have no doubt in my mind that even if the people threatening to leave, leave, it will have absolutely no impact on the presidential elections. The president will win Sokoto, Kwara and Adamawa easily.
“Kano is already in the bag, I mean if you saw the crowd that welcomed the president without the former governor Kwankwaso, Kano has always been the president’s base.
“To me that is not the issue. The issue is that they have written, they have expressed grievances, some of the grievances are legitimate and should be looked into.
“But to threaten to leave the party is neither here nor there. If they are honest with themselves, they know that President Buhari will win those states with or without them.”
The governor however advised that their grievance should be looked into and where possible, the issues resolved.
He added: “But if you have a grievance, we are a party and politics is a game of addition not subtraction, so we don’t want to loose anyone.
“So, I think those the letters were addressed to ought to study it and look into what is reasonably possible to accommodate them because politics as I said is a game of addition.”
The Kaduna governor who said he was in the presidential villa to brief the president on the conduct of last weekend’s Kaduna state local government election which saw electronic voting adopted for the first time in the country, recommended the device for future elections in the country.
While noting that the council election cost the state N4 billion to pull off, he said it saved N1.7 billion from not printing ballot papers because of the use of electronic voting machines, 300 of which he said, were deployed for the exercise.
He added: “The independent electoral commission of Kaduna State, brought in 300 of the machines and spent some months going round the state, market places, people’s homes to test the use of the machines to show that ordinary people can use it.
“It cost us a lot of money, the entire election cost us in the region of N4 billion. But, mind you with the electronic voting now we don’t need ballot paper, so we saved N1.7 billion in ballot papers alone.
“And, these machines can be used for three or four more elections because they can last for 10 years, all we need is to upgrade the software to add more parties and so on.
“So, we believe that overall is good value for money and it has worked very well. What we are very happy about is that ordinary people could use it, the interface was friendly, simple and you can finish voting for the chairman and councillors in less than 15 seconds.”
On the workability of the electronic voting system, he revealed: “One of the problems that led to the human factor problems that I mentioned, was because INEC denied us the use of the Card reader.
“When we were designing the machine, we had the option of integrating the card reader, so that you come with your voters card, put in your voters card biometrically confirmed that it is your card and then the machine will open for you to vote.
“But we thought that that will be too complicated since people are used to being accredited separately, it is better we take INEC’s card reader for accreditation and then our machine for voting.
“But a week to the election, INEC said they are not going to give us the card reader. The reasons they gave to me were not acceptable. I called the chairman and I tried to persuade him to make it available to us but we didn’t get the card reader.
“I am hoping, I have spoken to him again, that for the bye-elections, the two local governments and the other wards, we are going to get the card reader so that the human link that is subject to abuse would be eliminated and then you cannot change anything.
“If you change anything the card reader will expose the number of those accredited and that number must tally with the number of people that voted, otherwise the result gets automatically cancelled.
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“So, we are working on that. So, I have just seen Mr. President. I have briefed him on this and he has expressed his pleasure at the way and manner as a party in Kaduna, we are allowed free and fair elections.
“The president believes in free, fair and credible elections and he said it doesn’t matter if you loose some local governments. What is important is for the elections to be free and fair.
“This is an APC government, it is a government of fairness and justice and he was very happy with the way we conducted the elections with Kaduna so far.”
The governor assured that electronic voting will give credibility to elections and will encourage voters to come out to vote because they are sure their votes will counts.
He further stated: “I think it gave people the confidence that their votes mattered and for many people that didn’t even want to go out to vote in the elections, curiosity of the electronic voting machines brought them out.
“It made a lot of difference because the electronic voting machine has a record of how many people have voted and once the time for voting closes, it closes and you cannot take it and add more votes.”
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