The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the foreseeable technical glitches and “shortcomings” ahead of the governorship and state assembly polls.
During a speech about the concluded presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 25, 2023, today (March 7, 2023), in Abuja, national executive director, Dr. Sanwo Olatunji-David urged INEC to refine and expand data capacity and other necessary technical requirements related to election results upload to the INEC portal as stipulated in the election guidelines. He also blamed some of the technical hitches on inadequate training of polling unit agents in the effective use of the Biomodal Voter Accreditation system (BVAS) machines.
According to Olatunji-David, their observation across the polling units they monitored identified several issues, including the late arrival of INEC staff and election materials, which made the process drag late into the night, causing frustration among voters and creating fertile ground for electoral malpractices. Shortages of election consumables, such as ink pads, also delayed voting in some polling units. In addition, some polling unit agents were seeing the BVAS for the second time after their hastily packaged training, and couldn’t operate the device efficiently, which caused hitches and voter frustration.
The group commended the aggrieved parties for seeking redress in court instead of resorting to violence. The group also believed that approaching the court would enrich and deepen Nigeria’s democratic values.
“While the election was free, fair, and credible up to the point of counting, the situation changed after counting, and uploading the result made it practically impossible for the presidential results, which is at variance to the provisions of INEC regulations for this election and the electoral act. Now that INEC did not consider it expedient to address complaints relating to election results before announcing the winner,” Olatunji-David said.
The group believes that Nigeria cannot afford another crisis, especially with the tension across the country caused by the naira crunch and the vexation emanating from the February 25, 2023, elections. Therefore, they urged INEC to address these technical issues and train ad hoc BVAS operators adequately ahead of the governorship and state assembly polls.