By Chris Nlemoha
I want to channel this write up to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives,the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and other stake holders in the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Some of these problems are beyond the control of INEC while some are within their control. If the situation is not checked, we may be heading towards a national political calamity in no time.
I am a Nigerian Technocrat and politician who has observed and participated in the various National elections since 2003. I was an Imo State APC Guber Aspirant in the last General Elections of 2019. I was also APGA Candidate for Owerri West House of Assembly Elections in 2003 and a founding member of APC. Moreover, I am aBoT member of Buhari Campaign Organisation Katanpe, Abuja and Convener, Two Million Man Rally of Igbo Traders Association Nationwide in support of the re-election of PMB in 2019. I am a strong supporter and financier of our great Party APC, yet not very satisfied with the happenings in our electoral system.Due to the poor electoral system, I have decided to step aside from participating in political elections until the system is strengthened and sanitized..
Therefore, it is not an overstatement to say that I am a critical player in the national political system who sincerely seeks tremendous improvement in our electoral system in order to guarantee credibility and good governance.
The Need For Free Fair And Credible Elections In Nigeria
Free, fair and credible elections are important because with a vote comes a voice. When citizens cannot speak freely or are deprived of voting freely in elections, those set of people become disenfranchised, as their rights and interests are ignored. Free, fair and credible elections allow corrupt-free, sincere and well-focused leaders to emerge for the position of leadership.
From the above narrations and from our previous ugly electioneering experiences, we have seen that all the election models/options practiced so far in Nigeria have failed us ( viz: option A4, Open Ballot,Secret Ballot, Open Secret Ballot, etc). It has therefore become imperative for Nigeria to advance to a model that is worldly acclaimed as the best and that model is electronic voting. Yes, we can achieve it and we can afford it. We should adopt it if we sincerely seek to achieve credible elections
Description Of The Process
1. The PVC shall take full biometrics data of the person so that he/she can only access the voting machine only once for any particular election. The voting machine will reject double accreditation /voting or even void the previous vote by that person as a punishment for attempting to enter the machine twice.
2. The PVC should be changed to a National PVC whereby each voter can be resident in any part of the country and be able to select where he/she wants to vote irrespective of the State he/she resides. For instance, a person resident in Lagos State may decide to remain in Lagos State and vote for a candidate standing for election in Imo State without travelling on the election day. On the election day, the person does not need to travel. The person can remain in his area of residence and vote in a State of his choice. This will eliminate unnecessary travelling for the purpose of voting and attendant accidents,deaths, robberies, kidnappings associated with road travelling. It will save travelling expenses and save lives.
3. INEC maydecide to use the National ID as a replacement for this purpose to save cost or may issue new PVC that will serve this new purpose.
B. WARD COLLATION MICRO SERVER
1. While vote is going on at the Polling Units, the results (accreditation + votes cast) are being electronically transmitted to the ward collation MICRO Server located at the ward collation center.
2. Here, the Party Agents, and Agents of the respective candidates (only accredited Agents) for that election are allowed to sit in the WARD collation center,watching (perhaps in an electronic screen ) and recording the results simultaneously.
3. The MICRO Server will be programmed in such a way that it can only receive, further process and transmit data to the LGA Mini Server. That is, it can add up all the polling units results of that Ward and transmit same to the LGA Mini Server.
4. At the end of the Collation, each party agent signs the INEC result sheets(automatically produced from that machine) for that election signifying they witnessed the collation and that what was collated is what was transmitted to the LGA MINI Server and each Agent takes a copy home for records.
5. The result sheet can only be produced once, any second attempt at printing will produce a different number showing it is a duplicate, thereby questions have to be asked regarding what happened to the original copy.
C. LGA COLLATION MINI SERVER
1. The samething that happened at the Ward Collation center is what will happen at the LGA Collation Centre.
D. STATE SERVER
1. The State Collation Server shall be located at the INEC State Office.
2. It shall receive results from the LGA Mini Servers , collates and transmits to the National Server at INEC HQTR, Abuja.
E. NATIONAL MAIN SERVER
1. This serves mainly for the collation and declaration of the Presidential election result and as warehouse for the other State and National Election results already declared at various (LGA, Federal Constituencies, Senatorial zones) levels.
1. Our Electoral law should provide for Independent Candidates for every election. Registered Parties are taking undue advantage to raise the financial stakes to deter sincere/credible/clean/corruption- free Aspirants from partaking in political Offices as these class of aspirants would not want to dance to Party’s demand for huge official and unofficial fees for the procurement of party nomination forms, primaries, etc nomination forms, go through primaries fraught with irregularities, extort monies from Aspirants before giving tickets to their choice candidate who in most cases, are not the popular candidates,who will then resort to rigging and other malpractices to win election.
6. Party Primaries
The sanitization of the election process has to start with the party primaries.This is the stage where worse things happen in the process. Let us not continue to say that Party Primaries is the sole responsibility of the Party.
7. INEC should improve on the minimum educational requirement for any person seeking different elective positions as it is not proper for the less knowledgeable persons to be ruling or making laws for the more knowledgeable. I can recommend as follows:
a).Local Government Elections WASC/GCE/NECO/SSS,
b).State House of Assembly Minimum of OND/Diploma,
c).Governor, Reps, Senate, President will have a First Degree from a recognized accredited University.
8. If the Government is really serious in fighting corruption, certain aspects of our law have to be amended to properly empower the EFCC/ICPC. Lodgment of a certain sumof money in a bank should attract the Government attention. How can for instance, a kidnapper or civil/public servant collect ransom/steal sayN10m and heads to lodge the cash in his bank account and no person queries him as to where he got the money from.
10. Again,the cost of maintaining our elected representative at the National Assembly is exorbitantly unbearable. For instance, the 2018 National Budget provided at otal of N139.5 Billion for the 469 members of NASS with their aides whereas the Nigeria Police with a staff strength of about 350,000 was budgeted only N17 Billion. N17 billion/350,000 =N48,571 per Police per annum, which translates to only N4,000.00 per month. Worse still, out of the Police N17 Billion, out of which 0nly N6 Billion was released whereas the NASS budget was released fully. If these figures are correct, You can see why the Police cannot cope with the security challenges in the country.
In the light of this, I fully agree with Senator Rochas Okorocha that the NASS should be scaled down in order to reduce cost and to make the NASS job less lucrative. I suggest a total of 5 Reps from each State X 37 + 185 instead of 360. The Senate should remain as is.
Democratic elections are very important to the development of any nation. Though some countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Libya just to mention a few, don’t practice democracy yet they are prosperous and stable. When elections are free,fair and credible, it gives the citizens joy and sense of dignity that they have contributed to giving authority to the ruling Government who in-turn will respect them as the source of their power.
The National Assembly and the Executive should do everything possible to approve and deploy e-voting for the next General Election in Nigeria come 2023. They can start with Ondo, Ekiti, Anambra and Edo States Elections as test case before 2023.