Political parties and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country have declared absolute support for plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit election results electronically in the 2023 general election.
This is just as the groups have implored the electoral umpire to put every measure in place to punish its staff who may want to subvert the electoral process in the 2023 polls.
Speaking at the weekend during a conversation in LEADERSHIP Newspapers Twitter spaces, national organising secretary and acting national publicity secretary of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Egbeola Wale Martins, said the umbrella body of all political parties in Nigeria is happy with INEC’s decision to adopt electronic transmission of election results.
Martins noted that the political parties will support the commission to actualise its bid to deploy modern technology in the 2023 polls.
He said, “This question is bordering on the mind of the critical stakeholders. If the electronic transmission of election results were to be a trap, we wouldn’t have been part of that process. This system was used in Anambra, Osun and Ekiti State.
“Those benefiting from the former disformal system will be the ones to complain about electronic transmission of election results. All well-meaning critical stakeholders have agreed to the electronic transmission.
“Once the result at the polling unit is pasted on the wall, one can snap and transmit the results to their central server. At the level of the polling unit where the votes are cast, the results should go to the server. That does not mean you should not take it further”.
Martins maintained that political parties are at home with the electronic transmission of election results, saying those who don’t want it should have a change of mind because what happens at the polling units is what the electorate will get.
Also, the director of Programmes at Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said electronic transmission of election results has improved electoral transparency.
“The efforts in building and improving transparency in elections in Nigeria is commendable and the use of technology has been tremendous. The electoral act also adds to the credibility of the election.
Cynthia said, “When it comes to results management, there is a lot more to contextualise. We’ve seen INEC deploy its system in Osun and Ekiti and other places. The use of BIVAS is working. The results sheets, EC8A which is used to transmit the election results at the polling unit do not substitute the manual process. They complement each other.
“The INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal has been deployed in 105 elections. The electronic transmission of election results in every political zone, including FCT has been done and INEC has been learning and improving in it.
“We may not have a 100 percent deployment but we’ve had a sense of testing. The question if every part of the country will have the results transmitted electronically, putting into context the present security and infrastructure, the Ekiti, Osun and the 105 elections INEC have conducted gives them the opportunity to know what is required. And the law is clear because we have to confirm the figures and transfer them electronically.
“INEC must ensure the infrastructure is in place. While you may not do that immediately in some polling units, once you leave that place to another place, the results will be uploaded even though we know that not all the polling units will get the results uploaded immediately. Some in real time while others will come later. So, a policy document that will guide that should be put in place, ” Cynthia added.
Also speaking, the representative of the Center for Democracy Development (CDD), Afolabi Adekaiyaoja, said electronic transmission of election results will inspire more faith in the electoral process.
He noted: “In the Osun and Ekiti elections, we’ve seen more turnout with violence reduced. We are seeing more faith in the process. People are now coming out to vote because of the transparency in the process.
“The electronic transmission of election results is important because it encourages people to come out and vote. People are optimistic in participating in the process now. The fact that people can see the results in real time, it is easier to feel more confident in the outcome”.
A social entrepreneur/executive director of Paradigm Initiative of Nigeria and member, UN Internet Governance Forum, Gbenga Sesan, said that the plan by INEC to use electronic transmission of election results is not a trap.
According to Sesan, the improvement in the electoral process and the adoption of technology is a commendable development, which they have been praying for a long time.
He stated: “We must ensure that people or INEC staff who may want to subvert the process are punished. It has already been said; this does not mean manual transmission will not be done but the electronic transmission is important. If we did not learn anything from the COVID-19 lockdown, we should have the value of technology. Technology does not mean the internet.
“You can’t equate electronics to the internet. TV, Radio, SMS are electronic and you don’t need the internet to transmit election results electronically. It’s not about whether everybody can use broadband, we only need the appropriate technology. So, electronic does not mean internet. Even at that, the growth of internet penetration from 2000 is over 100 percent.
The new registrants are born into technology so we must get a process that is compliance, which is technology. I look forward to a time where even registration will be based on technology”.
A candidate of the House of Representatives under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Hawal/Askira Uba, Borno State, Dr Manasseh Allen, said electronic transmission of election results is not about the internet.
“There is nowhere in the entire state where people are not making calls, even if the transmission will be internet based. But we are talking about electronics in which the transmission can be in any form. They are against the electronic transmission of results because they are used to writing results.
“The transmission of the election results electronically is a threat to their plans to manipulate the process. In Gwoza LGA for example, the election is conducted in few places as centres and that is the headquarters of the local government. The INEC decision is valid and we support it,” Allen said.
Similarly, the spokesman to INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the law provides for manual and electronic transmission of election results.
He argued: “At the different levels of collation, we can’t jump it. We have a combination of both manual and electronic in terms of collation of results. The introduction of INEC results viewing portal started in 2020 and has conducted several other elections including seven off season gubernatorial elections.
“INEC has a committee with NCC, we have done a mapping where we have a 2G -4G network. Our own conclusion is that we have 98 percent of this country covered. The committee is still sitting and they know what to do concerning the 2023 general elections. We have a strategy and the strategy is working and everything will work well for the 2023 general elections”.