The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address hiccups associated with the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) towards credible elections in the country.
Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Senior Fellow CDD and election analysis, Election Analysis Centre (EAC), said this when he addressed a news conference on the Anambra Governorship Election in Abuja on Monday.
Ibrahim said that since the technology was key to the electoral process, INEC, must strive hard to get it right.
“INEC has to improve on technology and deployment skills. You cannot keep having these hitches each time you are deploying a new technology,’’ he said.
Dr Sam Amadi, the CDD election analyst, said that the CDD deployed some observers to monitor the election and got findings on the late arrival of election material and poll officials.
Amadi said that poor welfare for security personnel, slow pace of transmission of results to the INEC Results Viewing portal (IREV) and fake news were some of the things observed.
“The reported malfunction of the BVAS in most polling units has raised concerns about the reliability of the device; CDD believes that the intention behind the introduction of the BVAS is laudable.
“Importantly, the successful deployment of the device in many polling units demonstrates its utility and reliability.
“As was experienced with the card reader at its inception stage, we are confident that INEC will seek solutions to the identified challenges with the device.
“However, INEC must take immediate measures to enhance the infrastructure behind the technology and ensure adequate training for Adhoc staff on the efficient use of the device,” he said.
Amadi said that the widely reported late arrival of INEC personnel and polling materials at polling units pointed to the need for the commission to review its logistics strategy, especially in conflict-prone areas.
He said that CDD got information that some transporter refused to convey INEC staff and voting materials to the polling units even after receiving 50 per cent upfront payment, describing it as a reoccurring issue.
“The CDD found out that the continuing trend of security agents’ welfare not being given priority is disappointing, as it undervalues the humanity and service of those that put them in a situation where they could easily be compromised.
“The Anambra election saw the weaponisation of fake news and disinformation to mislead, confuse or frighten the electorate in order to undermine their faith and participation for the election,” he said.
He said that the CDD believed that these demonstrated the need for info-vigilance with respect to elections.
“But as we have seen, not only was the turnout in the 20 declared Local Government Areas (LGAs) disturbingly low (9.62 per cent), due to failure to hold an election in Ihiala LGA.
“The process has been declared inconclusive until Tuesday, Nov. 9, when we hope there will be a resolution.
“How the supplementary election is handled will have significant implications not only for Anambra, but also for Nigeria’s democracy.
“While we await the conclusion of the process, there is need to share lessons from the Anambra experience that we believe will help to safeguard our democracy,’’ he said.
INEC has since declared the Anambra governorship election inconclusive, to continue on Tuesday.
This is owing to the inability of the commission to deploy staff and materials to the Ihiala Local Government Area, as a result of a security threat.
It had reported that INEC had announced that Soludo won in 18 of the 20 Local Government Areas of the State already declared.
He won Dunukofia, Awka South, Oyi, Anaocha, Ayamelum, Anambra East, Idemili South, Onitsha South, Njikoka, Orumba South, Onitsha North, Idemili North, Ekwusigo, Aguata, Orumba North and Nnewi South Local Government Areas.
Soludo polled a total of 103, 946 votes, followed by Mr Valentine Ozigbo, who scored 51, 322 votes to emerge second.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Sen. Andy Uba, got a total of 42,942 votes to emerge the third.