Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, has said there will be no electronic voting in the 2019 general election.
He also disclosed that deployment of technology in the collation and transmission of elections will take the 2019 general poll beyond manipulations.
The INEC boss said these at the end of the three-day international conference on Opportunities and Challenges in the use of Technology in Elections in Abuja, yesterday.
“Namibia is one of the few countries in Africa to introduce full-blown electronic voting. In fact, I told the electoral umpire in 2016 that we will visit the country to learn how they were able to do it.
“On plans in place to prevent hacking of the commission’s website, as speculated in 2015, I want to say that there was an attempted hacking not full hacking, but the good thing with the processes in INEC is that in 2015, the commission operated essentially offline.
“You cannot hack offline. If you are talking of the existing legal framework, I know that we have enough backing for the deployment of technology.
“Let me categorically say that the commission will not deploy electronic voting in the 2019 general election. However, we will deploy technology for the collation and transmission of electronic result; without prejudice to the manual processes.
“There will be manual processes but, we will deploy technology and by doing so, we will collate, transmit and declare results more speedily and more accurately.
“Let me equally react to the type of technological innovation we are going to introduce in 2019. We have been piloting in several elections now on this idea of electronic transmission of results including the transmission of scanned copies of the EC8As; directly from the polling units.
“However, you know that there are two dimensions to this issue of technology–what the commission can do and what the citizens can do in their own rights, as citizens. We have made it possible now for citizens to be involved in doing what we call Citizens Mandate Protection.
“In addition to all the statutory faults that we issue to all the political parties and their agents at the polling stations, the commission has consistently pasted results at each polling units nationwide.
“You would have noticed that in the last governorship election in Anambra State, we designed a special poster called EC60E where the results will be entered and even have columns for the signature by the political party agencies may wish to sign. This us pasted at the 119, 973 polling units nationwide.
“Citizens can use technology to take picture of the EC60E and if they have their own situation room they can actually collate results. The truth is that increasingly in Africa, elections are going beyond the capacity of the electoral commission to manipulate.
“With technology, elections are in the hands of the people and our commitment at INEC is that only the citizens will determine who wins elections in Nigeria. I want to assure that technology has come to stay in elections especially in the conduct and transmission of the results,” he assured.
“We appreciate the works of technology in this age, we have had so much of it in times especially here in Nigeria. Our task now is how we are going to provide a secured platform that will enable us to transmit election results efficiently and securely. The issues of communication and security were also addressed at this conference.”