Amid the ongoing public outrage that has greeted the inability of returning officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to upload results of votes cast from polling units in the just-concluded presidential elections, renowned electoral analyst and observer, Austin Aigbe has come out to share his thoughts on the issue.
Recall that after Saturday's elections that were conducted across 774 Local Government Areas in the country, INEC National Commissioner on Voter Education, Festus Okoye apologized for the issues encountered with the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) which made it difficult for returning officers to upload results directly from polling units. He, however, had assured Nigerians that the results captured by the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices remained safe and could not be tampered with.
"The problem is totally due to technical hitches related to scaling up the IReV from a platform for managing off-season, State elections, to one for managing nationwide general elections. It is indeed not unusual for glitches to occur and be corrected in such situations," he said.
Reacting to INEC's explanation during an interview on Africa Independent Television (AIT) on Monday, Aigbe argued that the reason why millions of Nigerians thronged the streets to vote in the first place was that they were promised by the electoral umpire that for the first time in the nation's democratic history, people would be able to see their votes uploaded online directly from their polling units.
"If INEC does not want people to make statements on this issue, then it needs to do the needful. The 'needful' that I am talking about is that part of the voter education that led to the massive turnout of millions of Nigerians was because voters felt that the process would be credible. And that belief in the credibility of the process came as a result of the fact that if the BVAS does not accredit a person, they will not vote. In addition, it was believed that this BVAS process would eradicate the need for Incidence Form, which was often seen as a manipulative tool.
Also, this same BVAS, the same device was not only to be used for voter accreditation but was also expected to be used in uploading those results. The majority of the people that we spoke with, particularly young people in Abuja who trooped out under the sun and in the rain, said that they were very enthusiastic about voting because they could now cast their votes, see the results at their polling unit and then go and verify it online. What INEC has done now by not uploading results is that they have cut short that verification process. I personally think that for INEC to avoid any form of a challenge from the masses, is to commit to their commitment. And that commitment is that they would upload the polling unit results on IReV so that voters will have the privilege to view their votes online."
You can watch Austin Aigbe's analysis on AIT here.
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