By Nathaniel Gana
15th February 2022
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has reiterated the Commission’s faith in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). But he vowed to tackle all the observed challenges associated with its field performance on election day.
Speaking at the Commission’s meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) today in Abuja, Prof. Yakubu said the Commission remained convinced that the deployment of technology in elections safeguards the integrity of the ballot and provides a better guarantee for electoral credibility than the best manual process.
He recalled that when the BVAS was introduced in June 2021, it was intended to achieve two objectives. The first, he said, was the verification of the genuineness of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and the fingerprint/facial authentication. The second objective, he averred, was to replace the Z-pad for uploading the polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real time on election day.
“So far,” he said, “the BVAS has performed optimally in verifying the authenticity of PVCs and uploading images of polling unit results to the IReV.”
On election day administration, Prof. Yakubu observed that the Commission had, over the years, made giant strides in improving electoral logistics, staff recruitment, training, deployment, and the introduction of technology for voter verification and authentication, while the creation of Registration Area Centres (RACs) had also improved the early opening of polls.
His words: “The benefits of these new innovations to the electoral process and the credibility of our elections have been enormous. The outcome of elections conducted since the introduction of the BVAS in the Isoko South I State Constituency bye-election, followed by the Anambra State Governorship election and most recently in the FCT Area Council election has been positively adjudged by observers as credible.”
He added: “However, the challenges to the optimal functionality of the device are acknowledged and we are working on them. We will review and improve its functionality for biometric accreditation of voters in the forthcoming bye-election and off-season Governorship elections before the 2023 General Election.”
In view of the upcoming elections, Prof. Yakubu said the Commission has decided to devolve the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise to ward level in both Ekiti and Osun States, to enable more citizens to register. In addition, to afford more eligible voters the opportunity to register, the Commission is also considering devolving the exercise nationwide beyond the Commission’s State and Local Government offices where registration currently takes place.
The INEC Chairman also spoke on some congested polling units. He said: “Last year, the Commission achieved the historic feat of expanding voter access to polling units nationwide. The idea is to decongest the densely populated polling units by converting the erstwhile Voting Points (VPs) and Voting Point Settlements (VPS) to Polling Units and relocating some of them to unserved and underserved areas to make it easier for voters on election day.
“While this lofty goal has been achieved in many States, there are still congested polling units and other polling units with between 0 and 50 voters as we saw in some of the recent elections. Over the next few weeks, the Commission will intensify efforts to address the issue ahead of the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections and ultimately the 2023 General Election.”
The Commission will conduct bye-elections in four States of the Federation on 26th February 2022 to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives and some State Houses of Assembly. The Ekiti Governorship Election is scheduled for 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election will hold a month later on 16th July.