“INEC, you bring old people to count numbers for us as though we are students in a primary school class. Students who still have to watch their teachers repeatedly announce wrong figures off an excel sheet, claiming mistakes on poor lightning and lack of ruler. What an utter shame! We need correct cane, as the broom seems to be sweeping the wrong corridors” X pj
I must say that the recent electoral proceedings has been the most mind-draining experience for me this year. The series of activities which encircled the election exercise was an embarrassing ordeal to have witnessed. What kind of enervated coverage of the entire election and live result broadcasting did we watch on television, and what sort of propaganda are we reading off the internet. For God’s sake, this is 2019 not 1999. We have evolved from the centuries of analogue signals. My question therefore is, are we going to have this sort of electoral process in 2023.
"The media are essential to democracy and a democratic election is impossible without the media."
I still cannot believe that with the substantial taxpayers money spent to produce the next president and the national assembly members of Nigeria, this was what INEC could assemble. From the cancellation of elections few hours before commencement, late arrival of electoral materials and inefficient security operatives at polling stations, to delaying the results and large-scale irregularities in the said results still baffles my entire being. The result’s irregularities were so disheartening, the collation exercise was unworthy and the worksheets going from one hand to another makes the whole exercise incredible. In my opinion, it was a total waste of taxpayers money, as there are more effective ways to conduct an election of this magnitude. Especially in “The Digital Revolution” which has become fully active, increased in reach and easily accessible in recent times. Yet INEC still has not been able to align with its benefits.
However, It is important to note that aside from ICT’s pro’s, there are cons such as meddling and interference in transmitted data, but it cannot be compared to the manipulations at electoral centres, tampering with the card readers, manually filling of figures and snatching of ballot boxes, as these misfortunes to some degree leads to lose of lives and properties aside from tampered results.
The heavy question still on my mind is why was digitizing the process in real-time not considered. What happened to the use of Information Technology (IT) to store, retrieve and transmit results as it unfolds from each state, so as to offer more accurate and believable outcomes. Also, the use of IT would have enabled a faster the result process, instead of the snail pace which kept us on our seats for hours upon hours into the next two days. Another question is, why was there an absent of younger people reading the results sheets, as we had some older people who could not account for figures clearly typed on a white sheet. Seeing how delicate these elections were, this simple yet provoking mistakes are not expected to be uttered from such a profound platform. Such a platform as INEC is expected to maintain high level of professionalism, accuracy and impartiality.
Considering that Nigeria has a huge population of almost 200 million people, which could have impacted the unsatisfactory outcomes of the elections, this is yet another main reason why INEC should have melded modern science into traditional act, so as to avoid manual mistakes which traditional methods presents. Also, the idea of voting where one had previously registered is absolutely inefficient. It results to wastage or failure to make the best use of time and resources. This is another instant were digitization comes into effect again, resolving failures and achieving maximum productivity.
One of the main failures of 2019 elections was cancelled results. Substantial numbers for that matter from so many polling units across the country which were mainly attributed to card reader problems. I remember a spectator from the audience claimed voters were verified through other means, but the INEC chairman quoted an electoral regulation which makes it not legally binding. If truly this was the case that some people were allowed to vote without accreditation, due to the difficulties posed forward by the card reader machine and still had their votes rejected, why then was the electoral commission unable to previously plan for other legally acceptable means of verification in case of such mishaps. These are the loopholes used in rigging an elections. They are opportunities used to disenfranchise the right of voters towards a particular party’s gains so as to benefit another party. Such unfavourable occurrences would have been avoided if technology played a significant role in the elections.
The use of digital processes would have lessened or abolished the issues of card reader problems and there would have been improbable accounts of the many affected polling units. Besides, we have to bear in mind that the number of registered voters as compared to the number of accredited voters in majority of the states were extremely low. The poor turnout was difficult to comprehend and it allowed for a not so compelling results. For this reason, we have to and must do better come 2023.
In another note, I must thank Olubankole Wellington (Banky W) for his efforts during this election and the movement which he has initiated. With his few wins, he has indeed given the youths hope to begin a political career at a much younger age and a clear understanding that they do not need a godfather before they can put their intentions forward. Hopefully we get to see more young people running in 2023, all thanks to Mr W of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP).