Following the rejection of electronic transmission of election results by the National Assembly in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has stated that the use of the technology will be feasible in the deepening of democracy in Nigeria.
According to earlier reports, the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has criticised the proposed electronic transmission of election results, saying it was not feasible in the country for now.
He stated that, “I want to use this opportunity to talk to people out there … We all want electronic transmission of results, but based on the information from experts, it is not as easy as it sounds. We must get our electoral process right and when the time is right, we can come back and amend the law.”
Gbajabiamila opined that, “I don’t think that electronic voting is feasible right now. What we have been talking about is electronic transmission, and from what we have been told today (Friday), we need to do more work so that everybody’s vote will be counted.”
In reaction to this, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye stated “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.”
He made it known that, “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.”
He added that, “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.”
Okoye stressed that, “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.”
He submitted that, “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.”
He also disclosed that, “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.”
The INEC Commissioner reportedly said that, “The commission uploads Form EC8A, being polling unit results to a central viewing portal. Since 2020, the commission has been uploading these results from different parts of the country.”
He continued that, “The commission has used and will continue to use the existing technology to upload the results from polling units. The commission has uploaded results from polling units in Southern Ijaw with its difficult riverine and difficult terrain. The commission uploaded results from areas that are only accessible through human carriers.”
He revealed that, “The commission uploaded results from conflict areas. The commission uploaded results from all geopolitical zones. Presently, the commission has obtained the GPS coordinates of all the 176,846 polling units in the country and expanded voter access to the polling units.”
“Currently, the commission is carrying out part of the continuous voter registration exercise online, while the physical registration of voters will be done using INEC Voter Enrolment Device that will capture the fingerprints and facials of registrants,” he concluded.