The ongoing INEC voters registration exercise has brought to the fore again the paradox of technology application by Nigerian MDAs.
Across the land, prospective voters find that the simple act of registration is akin to climbing a mountain or reprising the walk to Golgotha doing the Stations of the Cross at the Awhum monastery and praying ground. It is tasking.
Technology for Nigerian MDAs is a slow coach that elongates rather than shortens the journey. It only adds layers to the bureaucratic red tape rather than eliminates it. It is a curious contradiction procured at such a high cost.
It is immaterial whether it is the Independent National Electoral Commission, Federal Road Safety Commission, or the Passport Office run by the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Interior. Their application of technology defeats speed and quick response as some of the attributes of technology deployment.
Compare and contrast the trajectory of procuring any vital documents entrusted to these agencies and the one managed by the Bankers Committee. You will walk into a bank, request an ATM card, and fill out the forms with your data. They capture it with your biometrics, and you get an ATM card useable in Nigeria and overseas.
INEC claims it will take a minimum of three months to process and print a Voters Card after you have done pre-registration on its portal or physical capture at the centres. You have provided all the information. Why does it have to take that long?
Ditto for the Road Safety Commission with Drivers’ Licenses. Ditto the Passport Office. Pray, what are technology’s definitions and applications for these agencies? From where do they procure the tech platforms that make them such slow coaches? Who prescribes or engineers the platforms that deliver such snail speeds in the name of technology and at such humungous cost?
INEC asks you to register online. Some succeed, others do not. However, it is the start of a lengthy bureaucratic journey.
Others go to an INEC Voter Registration Centre to commence the 40-day trip of a four-hour exercise. Where does automation lead to more processing points but in Nigerian MDAs? What sense does it make?
The upsurge in voter registration requests has exposed the deficiency of the INEC platform. It cannot cope, leading to a constant source of irritation. INEC has now offered the palliative of 209 additional machines. It will not suffice.
I join the many voices calling on INEC to extend the exercise by at least one month. INEC must register all newly motivated citizens to be part of Nigeria’s democracy.
I invite INEC and the other MDAs to ask the implementation agency of the BVN and ATM Cards Scheme to take them by their hands and guide them to doing it. Before the alibis come tumbling out, note that you can use your ATM cards in all the 774 LGAs. You can use it globally.
INEC should emulate the BVN and ATMs of the banking industry. The Nigerian Interbank Settlement System runs the additional security feature of the Bank Verification Number, linking the BVN to each ATM card.
“BVN verifies the customers’ identity seamlessly across multiple and interoperable electronic platforms. It searches the BVN database to display relevant information about an individual. The bio-data includes names, phone numbers, addresses, and dates of birth.
“BVN is a unique identification number that can verify across all financial institutions in Nigeria. It maps a customer’s BVN to the individual’s biological traits: * Finger Print * Signature * Facial photograph captured at the point of enrollment.
Today, “The BVN database is the most reliable and comprehensive data source in the Nigeria Financial Industry warehousing over 38 million unique BVNs, which are intrinsic to every individual whose profile it has captured”, the BVN website states.
Note that with the BVN and ATM, you can transact from your phone anywhere. INEC vends the falsehood that you must go to a physical location to cast your vote. In 2022 with all the tech platforms available in Nigeria and to all humanity?
For INEC to sell a credible claim of electronic voting, citizens should register anywhere and vote from anywhere based on that registration. That is the beauty of accurate technology that delivers a secure platform. With what INEC offers, expect a deceitful “electronic voting”. INEC can and must do better for us all.