December 7, 2022

BVAS, IReV, must stand!


WHEN the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, raised the alarm a couple of months ago that some fifth columnists are working against the use of proven technology to fight rigging in the 2023 general elections, some accused them of being false alarmists.

CUPP had claimed that the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC’s, Voter’s Register was padded with fictitious names, some of which belonged to foreigners, in some states. The case of wards in Omuma in Imo State was particularly mentioned. Indeed, CUPP presented evidence of a court suit purported to stop the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and the electronic transmission of results from the polling units to the INEC Result Viewing portal, IReV.

CUPP’s spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, also alleged plans to remove the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and other credible officers and bring in people who could compromise the election.

While President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly pledged his administration’s determination to bequeathe free, fair and credible elections in 2023, Professor Yakubu has also continued to maintain that all the technologically-driven arrangements, which have been popularly acclaimed, cannot be compromised.

The call by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and the Organising Secretary of the Party, Suleiman Argungu, for the suspension of technology for the forthcoming election last week shocked Nigerians. It, sort of, vindicated CUPP’s claim. It was even more shocking that Adamu and Argungu made this call when a Commonwealth delegation, led by its Political Officer, Lindiwe Maleleka, visited the APC national secretariat.

The party later quickly issued a statement pledging its full support for the INEC’s preparations for the elections, and accused media of reporting its Chairman “out of context”. Adamu also claimed he was “misquoted”, adding that he merely asked the INEC to make sure that their machines work and that there will be adequate network coverage to transmit results from all parts of the country.

It is relieving to see that all political parties and candidates are now (at least on paper) ready for elections where human interference will be minimised by technology. This, however, does not mean that enemies of free, fair and transparent elections have gone to sleep. Politicians will always look for ways to turn the hands of the clock and take us back to the inglorious past for their selfish gains.

It is our collective duty to maintain vigilance, work with INEC and other stakeholders in our electoral process, and ensure we elect leaders who will heal the wounds of this country. Only a people-centred results of the 2023 elections are capable of producing credible leaders. We fought hard to introduce technology into elections. It has done well in all off-cycle elections.

We must protect it with all our collective might.