The success recorded during the polls was largely attributed to one thing: the use of the device called card reader.After the 2011 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), under the leadership of Prof Attahiru Jega, assured Nigerians of a more transparent electoral process in 2015.In keeping with its promise, the INEC came up with some innovations to better the system, including the use of the card reader to verify each registered voter during accreditation so that voting by proxy or ballot stuffing would not take place, as was the practice during past elections.Since releasing the timetable for this year’s elections, INEC embarked on a nationwide campaign not only about the Permanent Voter Card (PVC), which it promised to provide way back in 2011, but also told Nigerians that the card reader was going to be used at the 2015 polls.However, few months to the elections, the card reader came under serious attacks and criticisms just like the PVC. The criticisms were mainly from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which unsuccessfully called on INEC to suspend the planned use of the device at the polls and allow voters use the Temporary Voter Card (TVC) used in 2011 to vote. .When some time last month the electoral body carried out mock accreditation exercise with the card reader, it recorded success in many polling units, but malfunctioned in some areas. That again gave the ruling party another opportunity to kick against the device. However, INEC did not budge and went ahead to use it for the March 28 polls.As it turned out, the device recorded more than 80 percent success, but there were some hitches witnessed in states such as Bayelsa, Benue, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Nasarawa, Lagos, Ondo, FCT and some other places.But knowing full well that the device might malfunction, INEC said it provided a spare card reader for each polling unit. Even at that, INEC went ahead to provide an incident form incase the device could not function at all. The form was to be filled for those whose biometrics could not be ascertained but their data are intact on the register.Following reported cases of card readers’ malfunction, INEC, through its National Commissioner, Dr. Chris O. Iyimoga, the chairman, information, voter education and publicity committee, said it had allowed manual voting in some areas.“The commission has, therefore, decided as part of the guidelines for the conduct of the 2015 general elections, that in polling units where card readers have so failed to work, the presiding officer shall manually accredit voters by marking the register of voters, upon being satisfied that the person presenting a Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) is the legitimate holder of the card.” At the end of the day, the card reader, many say, helped in giving some measure of credibility to the process.Interestingly, in states where the ruling party scored millions of votes in the 2011 presidential elections, it got much less than those figures this time around.For example, in states like Lagos, Rivers and Kano where President Goodluck Jonathan got 1.281 million, 1.817million and 440,666 votes, he only managed to get 632,327, 1.487 million and 215,779 respectively this year.Again, while Jonathan got 22.495 million and Buhari polled 12.214 million votes in 2011, the president now polled 10 million less than that during Saturday’s presidential poll as Buhari gained about 3 million more votes. Jonathan’s tally this year is 12.853 million against Buhari’s 15.424 million.This, analysts say, was made possible by the use of the card reader as it mitigated instances of ballot stuffing where number of registered voters are returned 90 percent in support of favoured canidates.The card reader turned out to be the hero and game changer of the 2015 polls.
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