The Executive Director of a citizens-led political movement, FixPolitics, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of breaching the trust of Nigerians with its reported failure to upload the February 25, 2023, general elections results to its portal via the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System in real-time, as it promised before the election.
Tony Ubani, in a statement on Thursday, noted that this is a deviation from the various assurances by the commission’s officials that they were ready for the polls with the deployment of the BVAS.
He also accused INEC of unpreparedness for the polls.
He stated, “At a press conference in November 2022, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu – conscious of growing public concern about the sincerity, transparency and commitment of the commission to credible elections, in which the votes of citizens will be respected – assured Nigerians the commission would upload polling results to its portal at the polling unit, immediately after voting, adding that citizens would have access to these results in real-time.
“The performance and controversies over the results mean that the electoral reforms and lessons declared to have been learned were not applied and, as an electoral body, it was significantly less prepared than it claimed.”
According to Ubani, the commission had promised to upload results from the polling unit and that citizens would have access to those results in real-time as they are uploaded.
Yakubu had stated in November that the programme cannot turn around and undermine itself, as this technology has come to stay.
He assured Nigerians that “We will upload polling unit results from the polling units. Citizens will have the right to view these results. After all, who are we serving? The citizens. How can we deprive citizens of access to the results of the process conducted by them at the polling unit?
“I assure and reassure you that the 2023 general elections will be our best ever and we are committed that votes cast by Nigerians will determine the outcome of the elections. Nothing more, nothing less.”
It is this assurance and several others by INEC, FixPolitics noted, that built confidence among Nigerians to register to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
“The public even accepted the added burden of the closure of tertiary institutions as part of the sacrifice in reciprocity to the assurances by INEC of a vote that would count. Many returned from overseas to exercise their citizenship in the hope that the process would be transparent, free and their votes will count,” Ubani said.
He however lamented that since the February 25 elections, the country had been saturated with reports, complaints and protests from citizens, candidates, political party officials, civil society organisations, the media, local and international observers and well-meaning Nigerians.
“The failure of INEC and widespread delayed opening of polling units meant that voters, who showed up at the polling stations early, were frustrated and many voters and INEC staff were not able to locate their polling units for several hours.
“Despite the different voices of dissent to the outcome of the election, three specific complaints cut across most of them: INEC’s failure and refusal to upload presidential election results, particularly in real-time, to the INEC Result Viewing Portal; the complete lack of transparency in INEC’s processes; and the failure to follow its own regulations and processes,” he said.
This breach of trust, he added, has made the populace to resent INEC and question the integrity of the ballot and its implication on the entire process.