Despite the National Assembly’s rejection of electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Saturday that using technology to improve democracy in Nigeria is possible.
The commission’s optimism stemmed from the fact that a joint committee comprised of telecommunications stakeholders had reviewed the system and determined that electronic transmission of results was feasible.
In an interview with Sunday PUNCH in Abuja, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, voiced these thoughts.
INEC, he said, was committed to deepening the use of technology in the election process, as evidenced by the creative, inventive, and strategic deployment and application of technology in many elements of the electoral process, with the goal of minimizing human interference as much as possible.
In his word;
“INEC has the capacity to transmit election results from the polling units to the Registration Area Collation Centres to the Local Government Collation Centres, the various state, federal and senatorial district collation centres, and the state and national collation centres.
“The Joint Technical Committee constituted by the commission and the Nigerian Communications Commission and made of telecommunication operators met on March 9, 2018, and the consensus was that the requirements for the electronic transfer of results proposed by INEC is practicable. The meeting, therefore, agreed that the solution that INEC wants to deploy is possible.
“We have the assurance of the service providers that they have provided similar technological solutions to other agencies and have the capacity to deploy technology to cover a few blind spots.
“The commission will continue to pilot different solutions bearing in mind that technology is dynamic and can limit human interference in the electoral process. The commission wants broad powers to deploy technology and is not in favour of a particular solution being written into the law.
“The commission is a creation of the constitution and the law and its powers are derived from the constitution. The constitution has also given the National Assembly the power to make laws but such powers must not be in conflict with and or at variance with the provisions of the constitution.
“We will continue to implement the provisions of the Electoral Act to the extent of its consistency with the constitution, as the constitution is the fundamental law of the land. The commission will continue to build integrity and trust in the electoral process.
“The commission has piloted and continues to pilot various electronic solutions that will improve the integrity of the electoral process. Presently, all the registered political parties upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates electronically.”
According to Okoye, domestic election observers and the media will be required to apply for accreditation to observe and cover elections electronically, and political parties will be required to submit the identities and images of their polling agents electronically.