• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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2023: No going back on use of BVAS – INEC

Lagos by-election: We ‘ll upload results on IREV-REC assures

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the system of using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the conduct of elections has come to stay, stressing that there’s no going back.

INEC also said another innovation that it has introduced is the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal, adding that Nigeria is perhaps one of the few countries in the world that transmits polling unit-level results in real time on election day.

INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this at an event organised by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) at the NED Headquarters, Washington DC, Unites States of America Wednesday.

“Proudly, I can say we are the first to introduce it in Africa. I was in Nairobi in August and they did so, but I told my friend, (Wafula) Chebukati, (Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya) that he must have borrowed the idea from Nigeria.

“In 2017, they tried to transmit raw data. But in Nigeria, we say don’t transmit raw data, but transmit scanned images of the polling unit level results which is safer and less susceptible to hacking than transmitting raw figures,” he said.

Yakubu also expressed concerns about security challenges in the country, especially in the Southeast and Northwest ahead of the 2023 general election.

He said the security situation in both regions was a major threat to the successful conduct of the election.

Yakubu said the commission was worried about security of its officials, voters, and the materials to be deployed, noting that “without them, we cannot conduct elections.”

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He said the dimension of insecurity in the country compared to what was obtained in the past changed and is now more widespread.

“Are there concerns about the 2023 general election? I’ll be the last to say there are no concerns. The first concern is the perennial issue of insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by the traditional issues of thuggery during elections organised by some of the political actors.

“I say it is a perennial issue because, at the end of the day, it is nothing new. However, the dimension of the insecurity is concerning in the sense that in the past, it was localised or confined to a particular part of the country, the northeast. But now it is more widespread and we are keeping our eyes, particularly on the northwest and the southeastern parts of the country.

“Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed. Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies, and they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed. Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections,” he stated.

He said about 2.7 million double registrations were weeded out of the last Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise conducted by the commission adding that 50 per cent of the new PVCs are ready but yet to be distributed to collection centres.

He disclosed that the permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) would be made available to eligible voters who had registered by November 2023.

He said: “We have completed the cleaning up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) that combines the fingerprint and the facial authentication of registered voters. Those who registered twice, those who are underage, or those who had no reason to register as provided by law have been weeded out.

“The exercise was completed a few days ago. We have not even shared the information with Nigerians, but we have 2.7 million invalid registrants and they have been weeded out.

“We’ll continue to take steps necessary to protect the integrity of the Register of Voters because it is fundamental to the conduct of elections. There can’t be credible elections without a credible register of voters.

“Nigerians have been asking the Commission when you finish registration and clean-up of the data, what about our Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC)? This will be available for new registrants by next month – November.

“We are looking at early to the middle of the month to make the cards available. We have already printed over 50 percent of the cards but we haven’t delivered them to the states yet. As we clean the data, we also print the cards.”

Yakubu stated that Nigerians who have registered should be rest assured that they will have their cards ahead of the general election.

“We also need to do so in good time because the law now requires us to publish the number of cards collected per polling unit,” he added.