By Ezeocha Nzeh
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday commenced its experiment of use of Electronic Voting, ahead of its deployment for future election
The commission’s chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, assured that the Commission will expedite the process leading up to the deployment of Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) for future elections with the demonstration of the process which had about 40 companies.
The Chairman, who made the disclosure while declaring open the demonstration exercise by the contracted companies and commission’s members at the INEC headquarters in Abuja, noted that the proposed deployment was in line with the yearnings and clamouring of the generality of Nigerians.
He maintained that the recently commission has taken further steps to improve on its delivery of free fair abnd credible elevction in the country, adding that deployment of technology in the introduction of a number of portals to facilitate the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media has produced landmark result.
Prof Yakubu further noted that the most significant one was the uploading of polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view, stressing that the significant innovations have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The Commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the Commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of EVMs in elections in earnest,” the Commission’s boss promised.
“I welcome you all to this occasion which is another giant step in the Commission’s continuous effort to deepen electoral integrity in Nigeria through the deployment of technology.
“Over the years, the Commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously.
“At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest data base of citizens in Nigeria. In addition, the combination of biometric voters’ cards commonly known as the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) and the Smart Card Reader (SCR) have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media. Most significantly, the Commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“Today, the Commission is taking yet another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process. For some time now, the Commission has been working on the deployment of technology in voting during elections to replace the current manual system which is tedious and requires enormous logistics to deliver huge quantities of printed materials and a large number of ad hoc staff to administer the process.
“To this end, the Commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the Commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.
“Over 40 companies that indicated interest will demonstrate to the Commission how their IT solutions meet our specifications. I wish to emphasise that this is only a demonstration that will enable the Commission to evaluate the available technology and where necessary fine tune our specifications before proceeding to the next stage which will involve the participation of stakeholders. Details of the next steps will be given at the end of the demonstrations.”