Ahead of the 2023 general elections, opposition parties on Thursday advised the Independent National Electoral Commission not to give in to forces against the Biometric Voter Verification System and electronic transmission of results.
The Peoples Democratic Party, Labor Party, All Progressive Grand Alliance, Social Democratic Party, Peoples Party of New Nigeria and Coalition of United Political Parties in interviews with The PUNCH insisted that the removal of BVAS would jeopardize the polls.
The parties were speaking in the face of a statement by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Abdullahi Adamu, where he expressed doubts about INEC’s ability to deliver credible elections using BVAS.
Adamu expressed reservations about the expansion of electronic transmission of results when a delegation from the Commonwealth for the 2023 general elections paid him a courtesy visit at the party secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday.
Adamu’s fear was again echoed by the party’s National Organization Secretary, Suleiman Argungu, who identified stable power supply as one of the obstacles to innovation.
Argungu also cited his home town of Kebbi as an example of an area where such technology could have some problems.
But less than 24 hours after their statements, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, announced that the party chairman was quoted out of context.
Morka noted that as Adamu took care of INEC’s willingness to roll out the technology, the party remains committed to the highest levels of electoral transparency.
The statement read: “A section of the media is full of comments on the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, on the implementation of the Bimodal Voter Verification System and Results Viewing Portal, otherwise known as electronic transmission of election results, for the 2023 general elections.
“As reported by the media, President Adamu fired back at INEC’s decision to extend the BVAS and the electronic transmission of the results is completely false and an unfair representation of the comments of the national chairman.
“At a meeting with the pre-election delegation of the Commonwealth, yesterday, Wednesday, November 23, 2022, in response to a question on the country’s preparation for next year’s elections, the national president stated that while the preparations were underway, he had tasked INEC with the electricity and telecommunication networks. take effective measures to bridge the gaps that challenges may create in some polling districts in the country, for the proper and successful deployment of BVAS and other technologies to ensure free and transparent elections.”
But the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba while rejecting Abdullahi’s turn, said technology was here to stay in the nation’s electoral process, warning against greater pressure on INEC.
“We know where the pressure comes from but we have to tell them that technology is here to stay; BVAS is here to stay. The whole world wants free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria in 2023. Credible surveys are impossible without the use of technology. INEC should not listen to these enemies of democracy. They must face their antics because Nigerians are solidly behind the commission,” he warned.
The Director of Strategic Communications, PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Momodu, blamed the APC behind the ongoing pressure on INEC to dump BVAS.
“APC is nervous and they don’t want to go through the technological process. Admit it or not, they are afraid, knowing that they cannot win elections in Nigeria. Technology will reveal their rigging plans. All other parties are interested in credible elections except the ruling party. INEC, therefore, should not submit to any pressure,” he advised.
Labor Party National Publicity Secretary Abayomi Arabambi argued that Adamu’s previous stance was a subtle strategy aimed at pressuring the election judge to reject BVAS.
He said: “It is obvious that APC is nervous. This is a strategy to put pressure on INEC but it will not work. APC is not the only party contesting the 2023 election. The fact that they have declared that the man has been withdrawn is enough to make them fear that they will lose the election. to express that
“I hope the man was in his right mind before he complained to BVAS, this is the only solution to the rigging of the election. INEC has also confirmed that there is no going back.
“Is it only the APC that wants to run for election in Nigeria? They do not own the country and the electoral system. They entered through the electoral system and will be expelled through the same process. As far as we are concerned, whether Adamu has backed down or not is an afterthought.”
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary of the Social Democratic Party, Rufus Aiyenigba called on INEC to be firm, saying the Ekiti state governorship election shows how important BVAS is to the electoral system.
“INEC has shown non-partisanship in recent years and SDP will continue to support the commission, especially in the use of technology to improve the conduct of our elections. As a party, we are ready for elections. Any individual or group pressure against INEC is an enemy of our democracy,” he stated.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Tex Okechukwu, backed the electoral commission to continue to improve its records, saying that “any plan to get rid of BVAS now will not work; it will not happen”.
Speaking in the same tone, Ladipo Johnson, the spokesperson for the Presidential Campaign Council of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, has also insisted that electronic transmission of results is here to stay.
Johnson slammed the leadership of the ruling party, still losing the Osun state governorship polls due to the effectiveness of BVAS.
He stated, ”We are not surprised that there is no BVAS after the result of the Osun election. Even if there are problems online, shouldn’t the ruling party be focused on solving the challenge rather than pushing back on electoral reform? That’s what a forward thinking person should do.
“We all want BVAS to stay. In fact, we all hope that INEC will gradually move to an automated system that will make it difficult for individuals to manipulate the electoral process. NNPP is happy with that”.
Urging the electoral body to resist pressure from any party, Johnson further said, “We want to encourage INEC not to be intimidated by any party and ensure that elections are conducted efficiently. BVAS is here to stay. In the long run, it will be cheaper and the need for manpower will be reduced.’ ‘.
Also reacting to the development, the spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said his group has protested against the position of the APC chairman on BVAS.
He said: “The reports of the rejection of the BVAS machine and the electronic transmission of the results by the APC national chairman have proven that the CUPP intelligence was accurate and the opposition coalition has once again been vindicated.
“Now, the national chairman of APC has revealed the position of APC on the rejection of BVAS and electronic transmission of results because we have exposed their manipulation plans. Now they have decided to spare no means to ensure a full attack on INEC chairman and his removal from office.”
Ugochinyere said the ruling party’s only hope to win the upcoming election was to rig the exercise, hence the opposition to BVAS and IREV.
He added, ”The only hope of winning the election is to massively manipulate the process and they know that with BVAS, electronic transmission of results and the INEC Election Results Portal, they have no chance as Nigerians have completely rejected the party. Their focus now is to remove the INEC chairman by any means necessary.
“Going from the poor performance of President Muhammadu Buhari to the worse promised by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be like jumping from a frying pan into a fire and Nigeria and Nigerians cannot afford that.”
INEC announced that it would roll out 176,846 of the bimodal voter verification system for the February 2023 general election.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Commission, Festus Okoye, disclosed this at the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association 2022 Annual Seminar held in Abuja on Monday.
He also said the commission will provide 17,618 BVAS machines for backup, with two devices for each registration area.
Okoye also said that INEC’s data recovery centers would be upgraded and all its platforms would be upgraded before the elections to prevent the platform from constant attacks by hackers and political operatives, adding that the commission was determined to hold free and fair elections in 2023. .
He said: “The commission is firm and fixed in its resolve to conduct free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections.
“The commission will continue to be open and transparent in its technological innovations, because the business of elections is a public business and citizens have the right to know what the commission is doing.
“INEC will continue to gradually introduce technology into the electoral process to enhance transparency and verifiability in voter authentication and results management. The country’s level of technological development and state of infrastructure will always influence the technology the commission can deploy.
“In this regard, the committee will proceed slowly, because accuracy in the management of results is more important than the speed with which technology is introduced.
“We are confident that BVAS and IReV will form an important pillar and component towards a technology-driven electoral process to avoid malevolent human interference in the electoral process,” he added.