Nigerians are set for another deciding moment where leaders that will steer the affairs of the country for the next four years are going to emerged through the ballot. One of the fundamental issues and the challenges in our electoral process, despite the achievements decoded so far, is the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit the election results electronically. The manual transmission of election results is often face with challenges because the election results can easily be manipulated during writing. The commission make attempts to transmit the election results in the Ekiti and Osun States governorship elections electronically but failed. Our findings show that the failure in transmitting the election results electronically was as a result of poor internet coverage.
There have been so much improvement in the country’s electoral process. This has been attested to by both local and international observers. The credibility in the electoral process has forced politicians to resort into vote buying which the electoral umpire is struggling to curb.
The inability of INEC to transmit election results electronically despite the use of card reader is a barrier to credible process. Although the 2019 general election is only five months away, there are concerns about the election results management and the inherent weakness of the electoral collation system. As we are aware, this system involves manual transmission of results sheets from one stage to the next up to the point of final collation. Incidentally, while in the course of carrying this out, malpractices are often perpetrated. Even though INEC Director of Information and Communication Technology, Mr Chidi Nwafor said most of election malpractices do not take place at polling units, we believe that the challenges have always been during collation. With his revelations, it is barely possible to ‘rig’ an election at the process of counting the ballot papers or manually transmitting it because the votes are not electronically recorded despite the use of the Smart Card Readers. This has made INEC mechanism for election results management to be weak and one of the major reasons candidates and parties often seek redress at the Tribunal and courts having believed that they were rigged out in an exercise that was meant to be open, free and fair.
We belief that the collation system, since it is carried out manually or manually transmitted, has every tendency to be manipulated not only at the polling units but during collation at the collation centres.
Even though the capacity to commit this act is not unconnected with the lax attitude of security personnel deployed to man these units and centres for effective sanctions, we agree with Prof Siyan Oyeweso that the manipulators understand that INEC’s mechanism for election results management is not full-proof and as such, is generally open to connivance from a number of networks involved in the electoral process.
In 2019 general elections, INEC must employ the use of innovative electronic collation and results transmission system to obviate the regular manual collation system which is often open to fraud and malpractices.
The results of all elections in each polling unit should be recorded into electronic platform developed for this purpose via the smart card readers. These results should be thereafter be transmitted to a central network which are collated automatically and viewed at the ward level while all forms could be scanned automatically by any voter or interested persons.
The database for the electronic results must be made in such a way that’ll possess an end-to-end encryption in order to eliminate manipulation and prevent any form of hacking. With these, results, confirmation and announcements could then be held at collation centre at the local, state and national levels. The collaboration between INEC, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Space Research and Development Agency (NSRDA) and other relevant agencies on electronic transmission of results and provisions of network even in remote communities must come to play. Time and energies dessipated on unnecessary counting and collaboration will no doubt be eliminated fully.
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