Good news is breaking as technology keeps making it increasingly possible to reduce the contentious menace of electoral fraud and other forms of manipulation that has characterized our electoral system in times past. With the emergence of the Bimodal Verification Accreditation System, BVAS, which is replacing the Smart Card Readers used in previous elections, polls in Nigeria will now be better in credibility. Those in government and in power who connive with electoral officials to recklessly cancel manual votes on their way to collation centers will be disappointed. No luxury of doing so anymore.
Thanks to the system which has thrown up this development. While many officials of INEC are happy with the new positive changes, especially the honest and sincere ones, the bad and criminal officials of the electoral umpire will be sleepless because it is no longer business for them as usual. The new system of check and balance will not afford them the window of making brisk business during the lucrative season of elections. I mean those who collude to cheat by cancelling votes of winners.
Technological development has no doubt strengthen the capacity of the electoral body by providing a level playing ground for all parties and improve on the hope of getting justice at the end of every voting exercise. The recent elections in Ekiti and Osun states have been rated excellent because of these improvements. Even though vote buying may still exists, it is a matter of time that all other similar issues will be addressed.
With increasing sensitization and enlightenment of voters by political parties and other civil society organizations towards political participation and the increasing rate at which voters are being registered, only hard work, lobby, ability to persuade can bring good results. A candidate can only be optimistic of winning elections if he or she is sure the people accepts him or her. No government can easily impose anyone any more. The old system of waiting in the wings and laying ambush at the collation centers to change or swap results of votes already casted at the polling units is no more. The anxiety and apprehension, insecurity and crisis associated with collation has been take off the shelve.
The major work rests squarely at the polling units from where results are transmitted electronically into INEC server after the last person has casted his or her vote. By the new arrangement ,counting of votes are done and the election results announced in the presence of everyone from where results are entered and transmitted. Even though there will still be manual copies of the results given to each participating political party, security agents and the INEC, the major development here is the immediate electronic transmission which was absent in previous exercises. In this way, everyone will see the result from all units as transmitted and monitored from the various situation rooms created by the different candidates, parties, security agents, observer and other monitoring groups. A situation where the ruling party connive with INEC to cancel results of opposition parties in some areas is now history.
This level of electoral policing, checks and oversight has to a large extent, served as serious check against any electoral malpractice or fraud. It is an improvement that has been largely celebrated, though it wasn’t easy getting to this level.. Electoral criminals who cannot win elections through clean processes but rely on the old system to rig, can no longer be comfortable with the new system. The new tide is definitely against them. INEC must have taken into serious cognizance the possibility of criminal attempts at breaking the new processes and other technological manipulations and therefore put in place adequate safeguards that will make it very difficult and impossible.
Now that legal frameworks have been put in place to support the use of technology to make our elections more credible, it behoves on all democracy loving citizens to take advantage by mobilizing themselves to elect competent and good leaders for the purpose of good governance. With the BVAS, incidences of manual accreditation and incident forms which has encouraged electoral fraud in the past will be no more. All results must be uploaded( transmitted electronically immediately voting is concluded) into INEC official website at the polling units before taking it to the ward, constituency ,LGA, state or collation centers. No more agreement between parties to share unused remaining ballot papers, no more massive thump printing and stuffing of ballot boxes. If you like, go and steal ballot boxes you are wasting your time. You cannot change the result. The people’s votes are now counting. But until you are registered and have your PVC, and until you go to the polling unit on election day to vote, this cannot happen. Elections have been made easier now with the new technological development. The security of sensitive materials and that of the votes have been taken care of, so we must all have our PVCs and vote. We now have the power in our hands to elect those we want and if we don’t do it, we should not complain again. Now that the power is in our hands, we must not play with it. Now that the system has taken care of all forms of manipulations to reduce fraudulent practices, it should be the voters joy to take advantage and do the right thing. People must wait at the polling unis to ensure that the exact results obtained are transmitted into the INEC server before leaving the premises. This is where fraud can take place under the new arrangement. Once results are fraudulently exchanged or swapped and transmitted, then it is recorded into the server and there is nothing one can do about it except going to court. If you allow that to happen so you can go to court, you may be shocked because of the nature of our judiciary. The recent Ekiti and Osun elections are excellent examples of BVAS. The results were generally accepted because everyone saw the processes. The issue of vote buying is next to be addressed. With continuous advancements ,time will come when one can vote from the comfort of his or her room, kitchen or toilet. For now, let us all get prepared as loyal citizens to do our part to vote for good candidates that will provide good governance and governance with integrity.