The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says days of wanton manipulation of election results are over in Nigeria, as it has blocked all avenues for such.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, INEC said this at a Stakeholder Roundtable on Election Result Management and the Launch of the Election Results Analysis Dashboard (ERAD) Report on Electronic Transmission of Results organised by Yiaga Africa in Abuja on Friday.
He said that INEC recorded a breakthrough with the new Electoral Act, 2022, which empowered it to adopt electronic means for both accreditation and results management and this made it a legal requirement for INEC to transmit results electronically.
According to him, the most critical technological tools introduced by the commission in recent times are the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal adding that while the former was a device, the latter was a web portal.
He said the BVAS was used for two principal purposes; to identify and accredit voters using two biometric modes: fingerprint and facial recognition, as well as capturing and uploading the image of the Polling Unit result form (Form EC8A), to the IReV portal.
“ Indeed, using the law, administrative measures and technology, the commission has drastically tackled major problems in result management in Nigerian elections.
“Among the top ten of such problems are falsification of scores at Polling Units, falsification of number of accredited voters, collation of false results, mutilation of results and computational errors.
“Others are swapping of result sheets, forging result sheets, snatching and destruction of result sheets, obtaining declaration and return involuntarily, making declaration and return while result collation is still in progress and poor recordkeeping.
“It is clear that armed with an improved electoral act, administrative procedures and requisite technology, the Commission has increased the transparency and confidence of the public in its election result management processes,” he said.
Yakubu added:“ I can confidently say that the days of wanton manipulation of elections results are over; yet, the commission is not resting on its oars.”
He said that starting with the Nasarawa Central State Constituency by-election election, the IReV has been deployed in 105 election, involving 16,694,461 registered voters for five governorship, six Senatorial Districts, seven Federal Constituency, 18 State Constituency, six FCT Chairmanship and 62 FCT Councillorship elections.
He said that a total of 32,985 results were successfully uploaded, giving an upload success rate of 99.13 per cent.
“What this successful transmission of results demonstrates is that the concern about the capacity of the Commission to transmit results from all over the country may well be unfounded.’’
He said that a total of 128,994 accounts have been opened by IReV users since it was launched two years ago August 2020.
He said another technical concern for INEC was the repeated attempts to break through its cyber security system for the portal but it has always failed.
Executive Director ,Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, while presenting the ERAD Findings on Electronic Transmission of Election Results in the 2022 Ekiti and Osun Governorship Election, said there were four key roles for ERAD.
According to Itodo, the Election Results Analysis Dashboard (ERAD) promotes transparency of election results management and support INEC by providing the public with access to election results from the polling unit in relative real-time.
He added that it provided an independent audit and integrity test of INEC’s election results management system by tracking results from the polling units based on commission’s own published results among others.
He said that Yiaga Africa while monitoring elections observed some things and recommended some pathways for improving the transparency of election result management .
“ INEC should invest in the training of polling unit officials, with a special focus on result transmission, ballot paper accounting as well as the capturing of polling unit results using the BVAS. It will address the capacity deficits resulting to upload of incorrect or incomplete forms and blurry images.
“ In addition to the transmission of polling unit level results, INEC should electronically transmit and publish the number of accredited voters on the IReV. This is in accordance with the Section 64(4) (5)(6) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“ INEC should deepen the transparency of the collation process, the Form EC8B, Ward collation result sheet should be uploaded on the IReV portal at the close of collation at the ward level. It will facilitate monitoring and tracking of the results collation process.
“INEC should increase the Amazon Web Services (AWS) resources for storing the form EC8A or polling unit results in the AWS server. Increasing the bandwidth, RAM size and storage capacity of the server to improve the processing power of the IReV portal and ensure public access to results uploaded on the portal,” he said.
Itodo urged the commission to discontinue new registrations or user account creation on the IReV portal 12 hours to election day, saying this will reduce the stress level on the IREV server on election day.
He said the commission should review the features of the BVAS to improve picture quality and consider converting election results from PDF to jpeg and create options for varying quality for downloads similar to YouTube downloading options for easy downloads.
He added that INEC should introduce a form like the Form E40G for reporting cancellation of results at the polling unit, to avoid upload of documents not relevant to the IReV or handwritten letters.