AFRICA/NIGERIA - Attention to the use of new technologies for the vote on February 25

Monday, 20 February 2023 bishops   elections  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "Our votes are precious; we must use them well, encouraging all eligible citizens to vote en masse for God-fearing, honest, dynamic and transparent leaders for a better Nigeria", says the final communiqué issued at the end of the First Plenary Assembly of the Nigerian Bishops' Conference entitled "Participation of Citizens to Good Governance in Nigeria".
Already in the title of their document, the Bishops call on Nigerians to their responsibility as citizens to participate responsibly in the presidential and parliamentary elections on February 25, in particular by avoiding selling their votes in exchange for money or other benefits.
Elections are organized and supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which this year will use new technologies to compile electoral lists, identify voters and collect votes. In this regard, the Episcopal Conference states: "We urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its officials to ensure that their conduct in the entire electoral process is transparent, honest and beyond reproach. We continue to enjoin the commission to make sure that the newly adopted technologies for accreditation, transmission and collation are transparently and sincerely deployed and not manipulated to give false results".
On February 25, three systems will be used to vote. The INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED), associated with the INEC Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, is used to verify the correct identity of voters (by biometric verification) and then to transmit the results of individual polling stations to the centralized collection system. Finally, the IREP, the results portal that allows the public to access the results by polling station.
The new technologies adopted by INEC have made it possible to identify approximately 2.7 million double registrations thanks to the use of biometric and digital data, and to facilitate the registration process of people with the right to vote.
INEC President Mahmood Yakubu stressed in a meeting at the London Think Tank Chatham House that the biometric reading machines were designed in-house in Nigeria, but manufactured overseas. Mahmood Yakubu added with a hint of irony that his engineers had also proposed that body odor biometrics be used in the future. "I answered: please, not yet, let's do it slowly", added the President of the INEC.
Security is at the center of the electoral campaign in a country where assassinations, armed robberies and kidnappings are the order of the day and not a week goes by without criminal groups, jihadists or separatists committing large-scale attacks, which often end in massacres. 94 million voters called to choose the new Head of State from a list of candidates; but the real challenge is between the 3 main contenders: Bola Tinubu candidate of the ruling party (All Progressives Congress APC), Atiku Abubakar, representative of the main opposition party (Peoples Democratic Party PDP) and Peter Obi, the outsider considered the candidate of young people (Labour Party LP). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/2/2023)