By Nnorom Chijioke
The plethora of cases emanating from the 2015 Elections demands for total electronic voting system as the only panacea for credible, free and fair election in Nigeria. The election of 1993 that gave rise to the JUNE 12 debacle though adjudged credible and fair still had some concerns, which gave room for the obnoxious annulment that moved our dear country backward.
The Semi electronic voting system deployed in the 2015 election had brought to the fore the need for total Electronic system. From 2007 when Electronic registration was introduce till the last election, one thing is certain, that electronic data base cannot function well with a manual voting system The introduction of the card reader could not prevent controversy not with the mess from operating the equipment properly and result resolution. But one thing became clear, and that is, that some level of control was introduced which led to the level of credibility ascribed to the 2015 process.
Electronic voting will to a certain level limit the involvement of person from accreditation to result release.
The electronic system we require would be self activated and operated via an INEC server based database, whereby both registration and any other process involved in the electoral process does not require a second person to deploy; depending on the ability or knowledge of the electorate. I know some people would want to latch into the old argument of the literacy level of Nigerians. The deployment of GSM succeeded despite that and today even the old women in my village have phones they use in contacting their children anywhere in the world. The percentage of Nigerians in this cadre is small and could be catered for with special arrangement.
In this computer age what you do not have as regards software that could assist you in getting things done is what you have not conceived. Getting a software developer to develop software that could assist our dear country to deploy a fool proof electoral system is not hard to come by. I believe in my country and we need to challenge ourselves and not rely on what obtains elsewhere. The peculiar creatures called Nigerians cannot be found anywhere in the world and I believe that Nigerians can solve the Nigerian problem if adequately motivated and challenged.
It is most appropriate for us to adopt an Electoral electronic system which begins with registration or re-registration of all eligible electorate and generate a new data base that would have the biometric of every electorate: e.g.
- NAME, PASSPORT, AND THUMB PRINT synchronized in a recordable storage format
- Existing INEC WARD/LGA/STATE CONSTITUENCY/FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY/ SENATORIAL ZONE/STATE/COUNTRY
In this software, anyone can register from anywhere from any computer where he/she could access the INEC website and then complete the requisite form on the site. I do not intend to discuss the attributes of the software here but to adduce that it is workable and where we desire it, there are places this could be developed.
From a good electronic system, what we require from the National Assembly is to state the required minimum electorate for ward to be created and the required minimum for state or Federal constituencies to be created. This would be easy for both the electoral body and the National Assembly as they do not require an agitation from a group of people or request from a political group, but the input from the electoral data which is available and retrievable from the commission’s data base.
With self activated and self operated electronic system, the country would be saving a lot of money from printing of materials, ballot boxes to the logistics of moving materials from one point to another etc. Secondly the process would be so designed that each electorate would ascertain from the screen if his ballot had been accepted. There would be no room for over voting, as the software would prompt a ballot with the voter’s picture and stored thumbprint which would only accept voting when the thumb for the voter marches with the thumb print in the data base.
Whatever features required for authenticating the voting system would be incorporated in the design.
Also one could vote for any election of his or her choice from anywhere in Nigeria if such a person is a Nigerian registered voter. This would reduce the panic movement associated with election as well as save lives that are lost either by movement on the road or during election . Electronic voting would be personal and discrete. Political thugery would be of no use then and ballot snatching etc would never be witnessed in our polity any longer.
This is a clarion call on our respected men and women of the hallowed chambers of this Eight National Assembly, to write their names in Gold by setting the pace for good governance through credible, free and fair Electoral process. They would be doing that if they approve for an Electronic system of electoral process in our dear country. We urge them take a critical look on what we would gain and make adequate appropriation for both the development of such software and its subsequent deployment for Elections in Nigeria.
From the last and previous elections it had become obvious that our projections had been wrong both on our voter population and voter turnout.
- Nnorom Chijioke can be reached via [email protected]