MOST elections that lead to the defeat of incumbent office holders are usually free, fair and credible. These have been the hallmarks of the recent off-cycle governorship elections in Anambra State, Ekiti State and now Osun State.
These elections were devoid of violence. The use of technology to cut off the local government and state headquarters collation centres also eliminated the vices of ballot snatching, violence, falsification of results and the use of rogue elements among the security agencies in vote rigging.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s, resolve to minimise human interference in our elections is paying off. The deployment of the Bimodal Verification and Accreditation System, BVAS, has become the most effective way of ensuring the authenticity of voters in our electoral history.
This happy situation is further boosted by the electronic transmission of results from the polling station to the INEC servers, thus eliminating the hard labours and prolonged delays involved in the manual administration of our elections.
The Osun election, which was an important marker for the nationwide general elections of February/March 2023, has raised hopes for a successful exercise. People are beginning to see that their votes will count. The former notion that votes do not count was chiefly responsible for the debilitating apathy to our elections, especially by the youth.
With this notion that our votes now count, the youth (voters aged between 18 and 49 who constitute about 70 per cent of voters) will be energised for 2023. Indeed, in Osun, we saw young people readily assisting the INEC officials experiencing network problems with their Wi-Fi connections to transmit results.
This is the synergy we have been advocating, but which was impossible under the crime-prone manual system of the past. It is not yet Uhuru, however. The bogey of vote buying is still haunting our elections. We must find ways of ensuring that those who spend their money to buy votes will no longer benefit from it. Political parties must deploy authentic and incorruptible polling agents to checkmate vote buyers.
The BVAS should be further tweaked to make it more efficient in authenticating voters. This is key in ensuring a more efficient conduct of elections. The more efficient the BVAS the earlier results will roll in.
It will also promote more voter turnout. The Ekiti election result was announced same day, but the Osun poll took a much longer time. Delays give more room for corrupt manipulations.
Meanwhile, we call on INEC to send more machines and staff to register as many voters as possible. With about 10 days to the July 31 final deadline, many prospective voters are still being frustrated at INEC registration centres.