What does it really mean to reconfigure BVAS?
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation Machine (BVAS) will be reconfigured before being used for the governorship and assembly election.
This was part of what led to the postponement of the March 11, governorship and house of assembly election to March 18 to enable the reconfiguration and investigation of the machine by dissatisfied candidates of the presidential election.
BVAS is a type of electronic voting machine used to verify the identity of voters before they cast their ballots. It works by scanning both the biometric (fingerprint) and visual (photo) data of the voter.
On the other hand, reconfiguring a BVAS means changing the settings or programming of the machine to alter its behaviour or functionality. This could involve updating the software, changing the configuration of the hardware, or modifying the settings of the machine.
However, many Nigerians have expressed concern on what the reconfiguration of the machine could mean for the outcome of both the present and past elections because of its major role in transmission of election result.
Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, former director, Voter Education and Publicity at INEC told Arise TV that, “Reconfiguring the BVAS does not mean it will be tampered with as data contained in the BVAS can be backed up.”
According to Osaze-Uzzi, it has to be reconfigured to the specific date and time of the next election.
Also, Festus Okoye, national commissioner, INEC said that the reconfiguration of the BVAS machine will not affect the data already uploaded in the machine, adding that it will be saved at the bank-end before reconfiguration can commence.
“There are two things involved in the configuration of the BVAS. The first is that before the BVAS can be reconfigured, the entire data on a particular BVAS has to be pushed to the accreditation back end. If you don’t push the entire information to the accreditation back end, the BVAS will not open itself for reconfiguration.”
Meanwhile, Software engineers and ad hoc staff that participated in the just concluded presidential election shared their view with BusinessDay on the reconfiguration of the BVAS machine.
Nick Idogho, a software engineer said there is need for INEC to give a clear description of what they actually mean by reconfiguration and state the major software to be reconfigured.
“The BVAS is actually like a console that has a software inside. I really do not know what INEC means by reconfiguring the BVAS because it is too broad. We have to know if they are reconfiguring the software or the hardware. Which particular software are we looking at reconfiguring, is it on the back end or on the front end,” Idogho said.
The software engineer said that if the reconfiguration is from the back-end, it is like transferring the data to a central unit that will be completing the data. Maybe there is a lag in sending the data which can be caused by a low Random Access Memory (RAM), storage or even the hard drive.
He said, ” There are people called Devox that are going to be in charge of the operations at the pipeline of sending the data from the BVAS to the central unit.”
For the Front-End, Idogho said it could be that the BVAS itself has issues that are not even connected to sending it to the central unit.
“This means they need to check what exactly is wrong with the BVAS as it is without even sending or maybe it was compromised by the manufacturers or people trying to create the interface it uses to communicate to the back-end,” he said.
Read also: Inside the ‘technical hitches’ behind BVAS failure
For Uwem Mfon (identity changed to protect source), an ex-corper member who worked as an ad hoc staff, operating the BVAS machine at a polling unit in Isolo during the presidential election said the reconfiguration process is a way of delaying or disrupting the election.
“Before our participation on the election day, we were told that the BVAS is an advanced form of anti-corruption medium but along the line you could only upload the senatorial and the house of representatives but couldn’t upload the presidential. It’s a rhetorical question but the whole thing is that I don’t know the intention of INEC in this reconfiguration,“ she said.
According to Mfon, INEC can conduct the election without reconfiguration because each result being uploaded has a particular site it goes to and it is only when INEC opens that site that you would be able to upload the result. We noticed that during the previous election.
“At a point during the previous election, people were still uploading the senatorial and rep’s result but nobody for once was able to upload that of the presidential. The REC told me that they will open the site only when they are done with the election,” Mfon said
She added that there is no need for the reconfiguration since each of the elections being held has a particular site to upload.
Mfon said: “The reconfiguration is a mirage for me and a process of looking for a way to delay the election or technique because they personally have a site for it. The BVAS was working fine during the presidential election but only failed to upload only presidential results. They gave us a particular code that was going which only failed only on presidential results.
“The people in charge of the BVAS in the upper room know what they are doing. In that BVAS, we were able to make use of two apps. The BVAS (an App inside the machine and the E-transmission which we use to upload results. Each Presiding Officer has a password given to each person which will be used for the upload. So, I do not see anything to reconfigure.
“At a point when my machine was having transmission issues they told me to snap the original copy of the result and I left it in another app called the gallery. So if they are to reconfigure this, it means wiping out the whole thing in that system.”
Meanwhile, Onyekachi Emmanuel, a Nigerian tech expert also said that the machine is just a channel to put information to the server and reconfiguring it does not mean the information in the system will be tampered.
He said, “the reconfiguration of that channel should be done with the availability of the date on the backend to be given to all the parties involved, which they are planning to give the Certified True Copies to the various parties involved.”