Last week, an INEC National Commissioner, Professor Okey Ibeanu argued the Nigeria was not ripe for e-voting because of the absence of “robust technical and physical infrastructure.”
This was at a Stakeholders’ forum on future of elections in Nigeria, put together by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR), with the support of the British Department for International Development (DFID).
Reacting to the INEC’s official comment, Aisha Bello, a Data Center and cloud systems Engineer at Cisco Systems has debunked the claim. She said the claim was ridiculous and a sorry excuse to probably promote vested self-interests, as far as elections is concerned.
“I think what he said is a sorry excuse. Either he doesn’t understand what technology is or what technology can do,” she reacted to the claim.
In Aisha’s opinion, anything that doesn’t work in Nigeria is not because the politicians don’t know how to make it work but it is due to the many vested interests involved in the polity. “They are obviously making money off it and it working will mean they will be out of business,” She explained.
Citing the rot in the power sector for instance, She pointed out to our correspondent that people were making millions of money off inverter and generator sales and it truly isn’t hard to solve the problem.
“If any country is doing it (reforming the power sector) what is so special about us? This is not rocket science. In elections, there are many ways to solve the problem through tech,” she stressed.
There are many ways to solve the problem using tech, even though majority of the population might not be literate enough but Bello truly believed it is possible through the right orientation.
“The illiterate populace could be literate for that specific purpose, If we had enough enthusiasm. Look at the National ID Card, The Driver’s license; you have to capture your biometrics for that. I am sure there is a database somewhere.
“If we say that for you to vote, you have to be verified in three different stages in such a way that all your identities are linked. So say my BVN is linked to my Driver’s license and National Identity Card and then I have to be a verified human being that would have digital foot prints. Apart from that, systems should be in place to verify eligibility to vote- so that we don’t have two years old with voters card. So we wouldn’t be thumb printing on a sheet of paper this time- It will be a scanner. And if that scanner doesn’t authenticate you as a voter in the database, your vote doesn’t count. Whether it is thumbprint, face recognition or iris scanner, I think that if we are keen, we know we can solve this problem with technology,” Aisha added.
Aisha Bello believed technology in elections should not even be up for debate instead what should be uppermost in our minds is sorting server issues. “What is happening now is that people are manually entering results into their system and sending to the server; it shouldn’t be. The system on its own should be capturing that vote and electronically transmitting the vote to the servers, not a person that should enter 110 but will go on to enter 120 votes for either APC or PDP. The kind of problems we should be having is that nobody hacked into the server and we can mitigate that by having multiple servers in different regions or zones and making sure the database is synchronized. It also involves due diligence in checking if one system’s result is different from the other, we would then know that the system has been corrupted. We can look at the logs and people that had access.”
In a nutshell, the data expert explained that those are the problems we should be having and it should not be a question whether technology should be used in elections or not. We should get to the point where Nigerians in the diaspora can vote. Why do people have to travel from Lagos to Abuja to vote? Why does it mean that if I registered in a different place, I can’t vote anywhere else? Why? These things should be a problem of the past,” Aisha wondered.
“I just think they want to use it because it will favour some certain set of people. People think it is electronic but it is actually manual and that is how the election results are easily influenced,” Aisha concluded.