Nigerians Urge INEC to Use BVAS for Voter Accreditation, Uploading of Results in Saturday’s Election

Emma Okonji

Following the alleged irregularities in the presidential and National Assembly elections that held February 25, Nigerians from all walks of life have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to make effective use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device, for accreditation of voters and for uploading of election results in the coming Saturday’s election.

Nigerians, including technology experts who spoke to THISDAY, advised INEC to ensure that all election results are uploaded through BVAS to INEC portal, to avoid repeat of manual collation of election results, as witnessed in the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Elder Statesman and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Robert Clark who spoke recently on ARISE News Channels, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, advised Nigerians to exercise their civic rights by turning out to vote for their preferred candidates in Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections.

According to him, Nigeria is in a very crucial time and Saturday’s election is crucial for all Nigerians. He however warned that INEC must not disenfranchise any voter by ensuring that the BVAS device would be effectively used for voter accreditation and uploading of results from polling units to INEC server as contained in the INEC election guidelines and the 2022 Electoral Act.

Speaking about Nigeria’s Constitution and the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections that were allegedly marred with irregularities, Clark said: “The 1999 Constitution, which Nigeria is operating, is a ‘rotten egg’ and we cannot make any headway with the Constitution, except the Constitution is changed. The Constitution should be changed to enable the states develop independently. The powers of the federal government must be reduced and power given to the states so that Nigeria can develop. Whoever becomes the next President of Nigeria should revisit the 1999 Constitution to enable Nigeria to develop.”   

Chairman, Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Kayode Odunowo, who also spoke on ARISE News Channels, also encouraged Nigerians to vote in the coming governorship and state House of Assembly elections.

He assured Nigerians that NARTO would work with INEC to ensure hitch-free election on Saturday March 11, 2023. Other Nigerians, who expressed the feelings about the election, said they were worried about the threats from some groups of people who were bent on destabilising the electoral process, coupled with the inability of INEC to upload election results across the country on real-time basis during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Reacting to the recent INEC’s application to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, seeking for the re-configuration of BVAS devices used in the presidential an National Assembly elections, before deploying them for the governorship and state House of Assembly elections on Saturday, some technology experts who faulted INEC’s application, said granting the application would allow INEC to tamper with the devices and erase election results that would be used as evidence in the pending election litigations against INEC.

While most Nigerians are calling on INEC to cancel the presidential and National Assembly election as a result of the alleged irregularities that marred the conduct of the elections, others are insisting that INEC should postpone the governorship and state House of Assembly elections, until INEC satisfactorily conclude on the presidential and National Assembly elections.    

President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body for all Information Technology (IT) professionals in Nigeria, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, who encouraged Nigerians to return to the polling units in their numbers to vote in Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections, insisted that the BVAS technology has improved Nigeria’s electoral process, having performed efficiently well in accreditation of voters without hitches.

Sodiya however advised that the same BVAS should be used to upload results from polling units to INEC servers in Saturday’s election, for the purpose of transparency and credibility of the electoral process.

Reacting to INEC’s application to re-configure the BVAS devices before deploying them for Saturday’s election, Sodiya said re-configuration would amount to erasing of vital information already stored in the BVAS. He however clarified that such information could be stored in the BVAS memory or in an external hard drive, from where they could be retrieved, when needed. Sodiya further said Nigeria could successfully carry out electronic voting (e-voting) in all general elections, and called on INEC to consider the process of e-voting in future elections, where voters could vote from the comfort of their homes, using their mobile phones. He therefore called on INEC to collaborate with NCS to achieve the e-voting process.

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