By Juliet Umeh
In less than one year, Nigeria will be going through another round of election processes.
Unfortunately, most Nigerians have lost faith in the country’s voting system and this has resulted to election apathy in most cases.
In a forum organized by Technology Company recently, technology expert, Mr. Adebayo Akande, who is a Senior Assistant to Oyo State government on Information and Communication Technology, ICT, called on Nigeria government to embrace blockchain technology in order to address election challenges.
He explained that the concept of incorporating Blockchain-enabled e-voting, BEV, will make the election process quicker and easier is compelling in a modern society.
Akande noted some of the challenges as poor turnout of voters, violence, high cost of printing ballot papers, discrepancies in number of votes among others.
According to him, “Nigeria has over 200 million people and about 84 million registered voters. But, in the 2019 elections, there was a 35 percent voter turnout, which was down from the 44 percent voter turnout in 2015 and 54 percent turnout in 2011.
“There are usually reports of electoral violence and harassment of both voters and electoral officials during elections and when it comes to the cost of printing ballot papers. For the 2019 general elections, it was reported that INEC required the sum of N35 billion for the printing of ballot papers and result sheets.
“Also, the Civil Society Organisation reported that the figures on the total number of registered voters announced before the elections and the figures announced by INEC during the collation in 30 of 36 states were inconsistent.”
Akande explained that blockchain has worked in other countries including Namibia which is an African country. Other countries include: Sierra Leone, Namibia, South Korea and Brazil.
He described blockchain technology as one of the emerging technologies with strong cryptographic foundations. It is primarily a distributed decentralised database that maintains a complete list of constantly growing data records secured from unauthorised manipulating, tampering and revision.
“BEV will ensure that the electoral process is cheap and fast, will normalize it in the electorate’s eyes, remove a certain control barrier between the voter and the elected official and put some pressure on the elected official.
“It will also open the door to a more transparent type of democracy that requires voters to speak their will on specific bills and initiatives.
Why Nigeria should adopt blockchain-enabled e-voting
*Decentralisation: BEV does not just digitise the traditional voting process; it proposes an alternative with a different set of values.
Traditionally, the authorities manage elections and the process is centralised and top-down. With BEV, the process is transparent, decentralised and bottom-up.
*Voter’s Primacy: While participation in traditional elections reinforces the authority of the state; participation in BEV asserts the primacy of the people.
*Challenges solved: The BEV can provide the solution to the challenges Such as, anonymity of the voter, ambiguity of votes, proof of a valid vote, incorrect counting and accounting of votes, avoiding single entity control on vote tallying and election result announcement, weeding out ineligible voters.
*Transparency and voter Confidence: BEV promotes transparency and clarity to voters.
Blockchain voting results are auditable, therefore voters can see if their votes were casted or not. The improved voter identification can help increase voters’ participation.
Points to consider before blockchain adoption
Akande advised government on, “Widespread awareness amongst the citizenry to improve public confidence and trust and political will, laws and policies to support a new technology
“Public officials need to be educated to better understand the nuances of the technology.
BEV should be trailed in smaller elections. Lessons from this pilot phase will be implemented in the larger elections,” he advised.