The Independent National Electoral Commission has unveiled an electronic collation and results transmission system with a view to eliminating manual collation which the commission says enables malpractices.
INEC’s Director of Information and Communication Technology, Chidi Nwafor, disclosed the development on Thursday during a media parley chaired by the commission’s chief, Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja.
In his presentation centred on deployment of technology and innovations to drive Nigeria’s electoral system ahead of the 2019 general elections, Mr. Nwafor highlighted the weakness of current collation system which involves manual transmission of results sheets from one stage to the next up to the point of final collation in the course of which malpractices are perpetrated.
“Observations have shown that most election malpractices that take place do not take place at polling units,” said Mr. Nwafor, a fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers who supervised the deployment of permanent voters’ cards and smart readers for the 2015 elections.
He said it was barely possible to “rig” at polling units where everybody participates in the process of counting of ballot papers and recording of scores.
‘The challenge has been after the poll – between the polling units and the collation centres and at the collation centre.
“INEC has therefore decided to securely transmit results from all polling units to central database such that only viewing access is allowed at the wards and local government levels – which ultimately eliminates manual collation processes.”
The new e-collation system has four procedures, namely:
Results from polling units will be entered into the e-collation application on the smart card reader;
Results are transmitted to a central server;
Results are auto-collated and can be viewed at the RAs (wards) and ECA8s can be scanned at that level; and
Result audit and confirmation takes place at collation centres at LGAs, state and national level.
Mr. Nwafor said the new system could be used for all elections, from local council polls which INEC conducts in the Federal Capital Territory to the presidential election.
He added that the system had “a flexible dashboard to with a real-time user interface showing graphical presentation of status of results collated per given time.”
It is expected that the e-collation system further improves the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process, as did PVC and smart card reader when deployed for the 2015 elections, reputed as the most credible since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999.
INEC said the new system would be first deployed for the November 2017 Anambra State governorship election as pilot phase.
“INEC is preparing for the 2019 elections and is further deploying technology to improve its service delivery and make its processes less prone to manipulations,” said Mr. Nwafor.
At the media parley, the chairman of the commission, Mr. Yakubu said the commission had been meeting with security, intelligence and military agencies to improve security of elections in Nigeria.
INEC’s last outing in Rivers States was widely condemned for widespread violence and malpractices, which ensured the commission had to wait till February 26 before concluding an exercise that started on December 10 of the previous year.
But Mr. Yakubu said 29 staff suspected to have been involved in the misconducts during the Rivers polls had been interdicted pending the outcome of investigation and prosecution by the police.