January 16, 2023

Simplify digital processes or extend deadlines for smaller parties, Sam Amadi tells INEC

…Says INEC must issue PVCs to all registered voters

…Reiterates the importance of election observatory

By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja.

LESS than 50 days to the 2023 general elections, the Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thought, Nigeria, ASSPT, Dr Sam Amadi, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure simplification of its digital process or extension of dates to enable effective participation by the less established parties.

Amadi, in a statement obtained by our correspondent, on Monday, in Abuja, also urged INEC to fulfill its constitutional obligations by ensuring the Permanent Voters Cards, PVC, of qualified, registered voters are issued before the 2023 election.

Also, Amadi disclosed that ASSPT has established the 2023 Election Observatory as part of efforts to adequately monitor, analyze and prescribe solutions to the issues that would affect the credibility and fairness of the 2023 elections.

According to Amadi, we urge the commission to recognize its constitutional obligation as a regulator to always insist on fair procedures that do not disadvantage any party or voting population. Specifically, we commend INEC for extending the deadline for collection of PVCs but urge it to ensure that all administrative changes required are made to ensure all registered voters who want to vote are able to collect their PVCs.

“INEC should recognize that any Nigerian citizen of voting age who has registered to vote must be accorded the opportunity to vote. By Section 47 of the Electoral Act, this means such a registered voter must receive from the INEC a Permanent Voter Card.

“The implication is that INEC is under a constitutional obligation to deliver a voter card to all registered voters who have made efforts to collect the same. We urge INEC to improve its delivery system and overcome some of the managerial shortcomings recorded in the past weeks in this regard.

“On the uploading of party agents for the February 25 election, we urge INEC to work hard and simplify its digital processes to enable efficient and timely upload. INEC should recognize the comparative disadvantage of the less established parties and grant them ample opportunity to meet the deadline.

Amadi suggested that to make simplification of INEC’s digital processes,”an Enterprise Data Upload Method such as; (a) Batch upload that we can export the database of the required agents in a standardized .CSV or Excel template;

“(b) Use of Application Programming Interface (API) to allow for digital handshake between Political Parties Agents Portal/ Web Platforms and INEC Agents Upload Portal;

“Furthermore, if INEC is not able to be flexible with its system to enable smooth upload, then it should, within its conveniences and schedule, consider extending the deadline to enable effective participation by the less established parties, outside the Big Four to ensure fair participation in competitive elections.

“These suggestions are made to provide fair and effective participation in the INEC process and to avert any resort to litigation that may damage the schedules and the credibility of the electoral management body and the entire process” he added.

Amadi, while commending INEC, said: “for the decision to use its staff to conduct the election rather than academics outside its control. By establishing a committee of its senior management and taking ownership of the process, INEC is proving that it is learning from the failures of the past and is determined to conduct more efficient and reliable elections in 2023.

“Last week, INEC decided to extend the deadline for the collection of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) for registered voters who have not done so. This extension is acknowledgement that it has not been very efficient as an institution in managing the process of registration and collection of voters cards. We have reports of hundreds thronging collection centers and not getting their PVC for myriad of reasons not of their making.

“INEC has been responding well to these bottlenecks as we are seeing increased collection of PVC. By extending the deadline in a manner that does not affect the conduct of the 2023 elections, INEC has avoided a constitutional challenge by those who are eligible to vote but has been denied the right to vote. Such flexibility will help to ensure that ultimately INEC conducts elections that cannot be easily impeached.”