Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country have divided over the mode of election conduct and transmission of results.
While some are advocating for electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results, others say Nigeria’s democracy should not be sacrifice to technology.
The National Assembly seems to have look away from the proposals submitted by Nigerians and political parties seeking for electronic voting and electronic transmission of results.
While passing the contentious electoral bill, the Senate in clause 52 (3) provided that the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC must seek clearance from the National Assembly and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to determine when and where electronic voting and electronic transmission of election results should be done.
Even though experts say such provision will kill the independence of INEC, the version passed by the House of Representatives only allows the electoral commission to decide when and where electronic voting and electronic transmission of results should be conducted.
But speaking at a zoom meeting organised by Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) tagged: The Future of Elections in Nigeria, the CSOs expressed divergent views on how elections should be conducted in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, while speaking, said Nigerians need to be mindful of elections and how it is conducted.
“We can’t surrender the election to machines. Democracy is about the people and not machines. Citizens must be given the power.
“We need to rethink elections and democracy. It’s critical to know that democracy is not just about election. We must think on how we can implement democracy without elections that are not delivering, ” Itodo said.
He also raised concerns that there is concentration of power within one percent of the Nigerian population adding that while people can’t even assert their authority, the same set of elites have been holding power in the last 10 years.
“These people have similar geographical and regional lining. People don’t go out to vote because democracy is not delivering. Investment in election must be considered because it does not encourage political participation,” Itodo added.
The outgoing chairperson of TMG, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said her group has been consistent in asking for electronic voting and electronic transmission of elections results adding that such should not be compromise.
“We stand on the fact that we must advocate for electronic voting and electronic transmission of elections results. We will continue to advocate for election transparency and accountability,” Abiola said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Partners for Election Reforms, Mr Ezenwa Nwagu said financial independent is a problem for INEC adding that there are procurements that need to happened, guaranteed before the election circle but that bureaucracy is hampering the independent of INEC.
Nwagwu who said INEC should the given not only it’s independent, added that financial autonomy for the electoral umpire is essential.
“Politicians that don’t want reform are the same people Nigerians must run to for the process to be reform. There should be clarity in election results transmission and we know that it is INEC’s duty to decide and not any other body,” Nwagwu said.
On her part, the representative of the CSO situation room, Ene Obi said Nigerians must hold the government to account adding that people knew the election results of Abiola even before the process was completed insisting that with electronic transmission of results, it will be transparent and many people will have confidence on the process.
“INEC need to be empower to conduct credible elections. The national assembly should adhere to the yearnings of Nigerians,” she added.