The Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) has put a lie to the insinuation that Nigeria is not ripe enough for electronic transmission of election results, contrary to the claim by the National Assembly.
The state electoral Commission had on Saturday, September 4, 2021, successfully used electronic voting machines for its local government election.
It was not just the first time, because, in 2018, the state’s electoral commission headed by Saratu Binta Dikko-Audu tested the possibility and saw it was effective.
The e-transmission of the result was deployed in 19 out of the 23 local government areas of the state, during Saturday’s chairmanship and councillorship elections.
Explaining the reason for the use of the innovative technology, Dikko-Audu said it was to ensure a transparent and credible process.
“We pioneered the e-voting system during our last Local Government Councils election; that was in 2018,” she said.
“Why that happened was because the Governor of this state, Malam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, being very progressive and courageous, decided when we came on board to task us with the responsibility of deploying technology to our Local Government Councils election.
“Initially, we thought all he meant was using the smart card reader because it had been such a success in the 2015 elections. But he said no, he wanted us to go the whole hog and have citizens actually vote on a machine and so we set out to develop the voting machine, which we eventually presented to the public in 2018,” the KADSIECOM chairman said.
On the full proof against rigging, she said: “You have four levels where the result is stored: the paper trail, the summary of results, the memory of the machine itself and the transmission to the server at headquarters.
“It will be hard for anyone to say they want to rig an election and change all those four values. Remember that I said we print 10 copies of the summary of results; so, 10 people already have the results out there. How are you going to get all 10 and change them? It will be very difficult.”
Kaduna’s successful deployment of technology in conducting a hitch-free election is seen as a huge indictment on the nation’s bicameral legislature that believes in holding on to an anachronistic way of doing things in the 21st Century Nigeria.
Recall that the National Assembly, on the eve of their annual recess, had passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill amid controversy surrounding Section 52, which leaves the e-transmission of election results at the mercy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
To achieve what many Nigerians consider a hidden agenda to rule out e-transmission of election results, the House of Representatives before the passage of the legislation invited the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to properly guide it and the Commission.
The NCC’s representative had said that only 50 percent Polling Units across the country had 3G network coverage that could enable such transmission.
Ubale Maska, executive commissioner, Technical Services, who spoke when he appeared before the Parliament, gave the indication that e-transmission of election results was not possible.
“We did an analysis of network coverage in 2018 in respect of all polling units in the country. We found out we had a 119, 000 polling units. We plotted 2G coverage; 3G coverage. We were able to see that about half of the polling units were covered with 2G/3G services. Roughly about 50.3 percent of them; about 49.7 percent didn’t have network coverage at all.
“…50.3 percent had 3G coverage and 2G together; 49.7 percent had only 2G, and about 1000 Polling Units had none at all. From a personal standpoint, what is required is 3G that could give that kind of transmission in full,” Maska had said.
But the INEC has since pooh-poohed the NCC claim, emphatically saying that it has the capacity for e-transmission of results from remote areas of the country.
“We have uploaded results from very remote areas, even from areas where you have to use human carriers to access,” INEC’s national chairman and commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said.
“So, we have made our own position very clear, that we have the capacity and we have the will to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process,” he said.
At a meeting on September 6, 2021, an array of experts thumbed-up for Governor El-Rufai for pulling off the feat despite the high level of insecurity in his domain.
They told BusinessDay that Nigeria, as a country, would have no reason for refusing to implement the technology given the rising insecurity across the country.
“If we do not get this issue of e-transmission of results right, we may have a serious problem in 2023,” they said.
Attempts to speak with Muyiwa Adeleke, media aide to Governor El-Rufai, on the efforts put in by the state government to achieve the feat were unsuccessful.
He did not pick his calls, but replied to the SMS, promising to call back, but could not before the paper went to bed.