The last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria have thrown up the issue of adopting full-scale e-voting process.
The elections were held after the election umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, postponed it from February 16 to February 23 due to logistics and other administrative reasons.
Reports across the geo-political zones raised showed that issues around loss of lives and property, ballot box snatching, stuffing of ballot boxes, thuggery, vote buying, insecurity and late arrival of electoral materials, are still pervade the system since the return of democracy in 1999.
But, in more advanced climes, election officials are employing computerized voting machines in lieu of paper ballots.
Fans of electronic ballots say the technology produces faster and more accurate results than other types of voting equipment.
However, critics say the machines are not sufficiently secure and can appear to work correctly but record votes inaccurately.
Nevertheless, e-voting could bring to end loss of lives during elections in Nigeria and burning of electoral materials, and other illegalities.
So why is INEC, not deploying technology for full-scale adoption of e-voting?
Though, INEC has automated some of the voting processes such as voter’s card verification, and the card reader, but developing full-scale e-voting remains elusive – why?
The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Computer Society, NCS, Engineer Iyiola Ayoola, in an interview with TechEconomy.ng further discussed why adopting e-voting may not work in Nigeria, presently.
For the records, NCS has been advocating for e-voting that is well articulated and executed. But Engineer Ayoola cited such as broadband penetration, lack of electricity supply, inaccurate data and low awareness, as chief among factors that will not allow INEC move further on the matter.
“Of course, e-voting is a process. For it to succeed, that process must be duly followed. Same time, we need to ask ourselves: what are the infrastructures on ground to support e-voting. Therefore, if the infrastructures are not on ground e-voting is not visible…”
..what are the infrastructures you are referring to?
“The internet, electricity, education/public awareness, data accuracy – those things are not on ground. Internet penetration has not reached every nooks and crannies of Nigeria. What is the percentage fibre optic coverage in Nigeria. Thanks to MainOne, Glo, MTN, WACC and others that are pushing the bar; but we are not there yet to support credible e-voting system.
“Even if you have fibre optic cables or satellite wave coverage of the whole country, how about power? The infrastructure is not there! Even if you want to deploy solar, do you know how much that will cost. Solar energy is still expensive. In my village there is no electricity, but who would build solar energy solution there. Except we get it right, e-voting will remain elusive.
“Education is also a factor; we are not matured as it were to adopt full scale e-voting. See the politicians trying to buy votes, because the human nature is there. Who said they wouldn’t even ‘invade’ peoples’ homes to bribe them or buy their votes.
“You also need to ask: is out internet secured? Where do we warehouse our data: is it Nigeria or Venezuela? Those things are not there. I also say that we will get there, but we need to get serious and start now to build the infrastructure. One thing I know Nigeria for is that once we are determined to do something we take it to another level”, he concluded.
Watch out for the full version of interview.