The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concerns over the adequate security of its officials, voters and the materials to be deployed for the 2023 general election.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the indication at an event by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), held on Tuesday, in Washington DC, United States of America.
Yakubu said the Commission had already consulted with security agencies who have on their part given their word to secure the country and ensure safety during the election.
“Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed. Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies, they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed” INEC Chairman said.
The INEC Boss recounted the lessons learnt from the general election conducted in 2015 and 2019 as well as the 103 off cycle elections and bye-elections since the 2019 general elections.
According to him, INEC has introduced innovations supported by the new Electoral Act to increase transparency and ensure credibility of the nation’s electoral process.
“These innovations are now provided for and protected by law, especially those leveraging on technology to improve voter registration, voter accreditation, result management and the promotion of inclusivity for marginalized persons such as women, youths and persons with disability” Yakubu noted.
Speaking on the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), the INEC Chairman noted that the system among other things has eliminated multiple accreditation that was observed in previous elections.
“what we have done basically is to retire our good old Smart Card Reader (SCR). The SCR by definition reads the card.But what we have done with the BVAS is to domicile the data of registered voters in a polling unit in the BVAS. So yes, the BVAS also reads the card, but there are a variety of ways of reading the card.”
Observing that the BVAS has increased public confidence in the outcome of elections as shown in the recent off cycle elections, Prof. Yakubu assured that the system of using the BVAS for the conduct of elections in Nigeria, has come to stay and there is no going back on the decision.
Also speaking on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal as a major achievement in the area of technological innovations and advancement, the Chief Electoral Umpire said “We are perhaps one of the few countries in the world that transmits polling unit level results in real time on election day.”
With the IReV, the Chairman said election results are uploaded from the polling units in real time. This he added has increased transparency in result management and helped to eliminate the falsification of results at polling unit level to the collation centres.
Professor Yakubu while speaking on inclusivity said the commission has put measures in place to make it easy for the physically challenged or persons living with disabilities (PWDs) to vote on election day, while assuring that INEC will continue to give more to ensure inclusivity.
Stressing that the social media plays a very important role in voter education and deepening democracy, the INEC Boss also highlighted steps taken so far to to deepen cooperation and relationship particularly with the organized social media for a successful election.
“The social media has been a force for good. The Commission does not support censorship. We believe that the antidote to fake news is greater transparency and openness and we have been demonstrating greater transparency and openness.”