Main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appear to be on a collision course with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC over the adoption and use of the highly-acclaimed Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of the 2023 General Elections in the country.
The BVAS technology drives the electronic transmission of election results directly from the polling booths across the country immediately after voting, as contained in the Electoral Act Amendment signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, this year, after months of heated arguments at the National Assembly before passage.
The machine also checks cases of double voting as it stores biometric data of registered electorate.
Receiving two international bodies at their various headquarters, Thursday, the leading political parties in the country took divergent positions on the BVAS technology, which has been trialed in two separate state elections in the country.
Welcoming the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Cateriona Laing, Thursday, who was a courtesy visit to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party at the Wadata House in Abuja, the PDP commended the device’s introduction into the Nigerian electoral system, saying ‘it is not going to be business as usual,’ even as it also expressed the hope for INEC ‘to maintain what they have promised to Nigerians and when that is done we will find out that our party is in top gear.’
Speaking at the event, the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchai Ayu, represented by the party’s National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said: “We believe that with the BVAS which INEC is able to introduce it is not going to be business as usual and that is why we keep praying for INEC to maintain what they have promised to Nigerians and when that is done we will find out that our party is in top gear,” Ayu said.
However, while receiving a Commonwealth delegation on pre-election assessment mission to the National Working Committee (NWC) of its party headquarters in Abuja, National Chairman of the ruling APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu expressed worry that conditions are not conducive to successfully transmit 2023 election results electronically in Nigeria.
Senator Adamu said there was no wide spread network and adequate electricity for INEC to transmit real time results electronically.
“Our concern is how ready are we to deploy some of these technologies as regards transmission because we are taking a major step in transmitting election results in real time. To transmit results, in every part of the nation Nigeria, I’m not sure that the network covers it, I know that even in parts of Abuja there is no network and we have from now till February when in substantial parts of the country there is no electricity. INEC must assure us 100 percent that as at when due in transmitting results they are ready,” Adamu said.
He asked INEC to assure Nigerians that they were 100 percent ready to transmit results electronically across the length and breadth of the country.
Leader of the Commonwealth delegation, Lindiwe Maleleka had sought the views of the APC on the recent amendment to the Electoral Act ahead of the 2023 General Election.
“We note the reforms that have been introduced in the lead up to this election: the Electoral Act, 2022, the new technologies which were introduced and I believe was tested in the Osun and Ekiti elections. We want to get your views about the new reforms in the build up to the next general elections because we are aware it will be rolled out for the election in February.
“We have interacted with civil society organizations, political parties, senior government officials and media representatives as well. It is an opportunity to understand the preparation for the election irrespective of what status. Based on these perspectives we will submit a report to the Commonwealth Secretary General who will then decide to deploy observers for the election on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat. This is why we are here to interact with you, tap your perspective and the preparation for the election,” Maleleka said.
Speaking also, the APC National Organising Secretary, Ambassador Suleiman Argungu supported the National Chairman’s position on electronic transmission of results.
“As a rider to what the national chairman just said about INEC transmitting results directly during the coming election, apart from the issue of electricity that is unstable, a lot of the villages and communities bordering other countries. For instance, my state Kebbi that is bordering two nations during the previous elections the network of Nigeria for all the networks, glo, MTN, Airtel you can’t get them.”
According to Argungu, ‘if one would like to get them, it would require the number of the other countries to reach them, which implied that during election, transmission of result wouldn’t work.’