By Olabisi Olaleye
Chairman of Zinox Group, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh said in Abuja that the time is ripe for Nigeria to deepen its democracy via deployment of electronic voting during elections.
Ekeh said this during a retreat organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter at the weekend.
In attendance at the retreat was the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu; Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari who was represented by Senator Abu Gumel; Chairperson of the House Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter, Hon. Mrs. Aisha Dukku as well as other distinguished members of the committee.
Ekeh,disclosed that with the rapid pace of global technological advancements, Nigeria stands to reap a lot of benefits from the deployment of e-voting. Adding that the initiative will go a long way in reducing litigations and strengthening the faith of Nigerians in the electoral process. While delivering a paper titled – New thoughts, ideas and innovations on use of ICT in elections.
The Zinox boss affirmed that the gains recorded with the use of the card readers in the 2015 general elections goes a long way to show that with the adoption of e-voting, the country will take a huge leap towards sound democratic governance.
“In your life, there must be a little bit of disruption for you to move forward. The country is ripe for transition to electronic voting. A lot of us are in this business because technology does not lie – it’s either you are right or you are wrong. With the use of the card readers in the last general elections, we saw a significant reduction in electoral fraud and other electoral malpractices. However, a few challenges were also encountered as no technology can be said to be 100 percent perfect.
“Today, there are about 774 local governments in the country and each one with about 10, 800 polling units, some of which are in the riverine areas. Even if INEC purchases 1000 vehicles, it will still find it difficult logistics-wise to cover all the areas and this leaves the process open to manipulation by emergency contractors as INEC lacks the requisite man-power.
“If finally adopted and implemented, electronic voting will ensure that you now have reasonable infrastructure to handle this. While you have the mobile units and active screens at the polling units, the database of registrants or eligible voters is sitting at the national database of INEC. Once a voter’s number is entered at the polling unit, it pulls up the details of the voter from the list of registered voters. Verification will no longer be a problem and during voting, once a voter clicks on the icon of a chosen party, the same information hits the INEC back-end. This will go a long way in reducing litigations as INEC can provide verifiable evidence in court.
“With this technology in place, voters will no longer have to travel back to their wards to cast their votes. Furthermore, INEC can also monitor the entire process easily as each electronic voting device is equipped with a tracker and can be configured to shut down immediately voting ends.”