Immediate past National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has described as utterly useless, the idea of electronic voting without electronic transmission of results, because approval for the former was impossible without the latter.
Jega, who carpeted the Senate and the House of Representatives over their alleged attempt to undermine electoral integrity by whittling down the powers of the election management body andsubjecting its decision to the National Communication Commission (NCC), a body under the Presidency, said it was a crazy and senseless decision.
Speaking with THISDAY, Jega re-affirmed his earlier comments about the amendments by the two arms of the National Assembly, describing it as crazy and encroaching on the independence and integrity of INEC, saying, “what the National Assembly did is senseless.”
According to him, “What the National Assembly is doing is senseless, if not a crazy amendment. How can you make the decision of INEC subject to confirmation, concurrence and approval of the NCC? A body under the presidency? And what has the National Assembly – a legislative body got to do with executive decision of INEC?
“Without approval for Electronic Transmission of Results (ETR) their approval of the Electronic Voting System (EVS) is virtually useless,” the former INEC chairman said, noting that the better alternative is for the Senate to grant INEC the powers to deploy to use, both the EVS and ETR.
He explained that Senate should grant INEC the power to deploy both electronic voting system and electronic transmission of results as it deems necessary of how and when INEC could.
For example, Jega explained that, should “INEC decide to deploy ETR ahead of EVS, and if, and when, conditions are appropriate, it can then deploy both simultaneously. But, as I said, EVS, which the Senators approved for INEC, can’t be deployed without ETR.
“INEC has demonstrated capacity to go transparent ETR in a number of states and other off-season elections. They can improve that capacity greatly well before 2023. In any case, INEC has the professionalism and competence to know how and when to deploy both EVS and ETR,” he stated.
When reminded that INEC has said it had the capacity to transmit election results electronically, Jega re-echoed same: “INEC has capacity to transparent ETR” and condemned the action of the National Assembly as retrogressive.
On what the amendments meant for the country’s democracy, Jega said, “The action is taking us backwards, and undermining electoral integrity as well as democratic development.”
But, Festus Okoye, the INEC Commissioner in charge of Voter Education has affirmed that the Commission had the capacity to transmit result real time from all parts of the country.
Speaking as a guest on, Sunrise Daily, a Channel TV programme, Saturday morning, Okoye reiteratedthat over the years, INEC had tested and ran different forms of technological and electronic additions to improving the integrity of the elections and that they had been successful.
Meanwhile, INEC, yesterday said a total of 752,011 new voters had registered online in the last 21 days.
A statement by Okoye stated that the number represented an average of 35,810 registrants per day.
“Out of this figure, 562,254 (74.7%) are youths between the ages of 18 and 34. In terms of gender, 493,128 are male while 369,188 are female registrants.”
He said a detailed distribution of registrants by State/FCT, age, occupation and disability had been uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms.
The Commission, he noted, wished to reiterate its earlier decision that, because of the declaration of Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st July 2021 as public holidays by the federal government, the commencement of physical registration has been rescheduled to Monday July 26, 2021.
He said Online pre-registrants, who booked for appointment to complete their registration physically between Monday 19th and Friday 23rd July 2021 would be notified within the next few days of the new dates for their appointments.
Okoye explained that prospective voters should visit the portal (https://cvr.inecnigeria.org) to choose a new available date and time if they so desire, even as he reassured all Nigerians that every eligible citizen willing to register as a voter would have the opportunity to do so. (Thisday)