The Independent National Electoral Commission in Nigeria has commenced the testing of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) acquired from over 40 companies.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while speaking at the opening of the demonstration on Monday in Abuja, said that the companies would demonstrate to INEC how their IT solutions met the commission’s specifications.
The Chairman described the demonstration as another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process and INEC’s continuous effort to deepen electoral integrity in Nigeria through the deployment of technology.
According to him, INEC has over the years been automating the critical pillars of the process including the continuous update of the country’s biometric register of voters; noting that the INEC register of voters was the largest data base of citizens in Nigeria.
“In addition, the combination of biometric voters’ cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and the Smart Card Reader (SCR) have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.
“Most significantly, the Commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“Today, the Commission is taking yet another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process.
“For some time now, the Commission has been working on the deployment of technology in voting during elections to replace the current manual system.
“To replace the current manual system which is tedious and requires enormous logistics to deliver huge quantities of printed materials and a large number of ad hoc staff to administer the process.
“To this end, the Commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine.
“After extensive discussion and review, the Commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of EVMs around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.’’
Yakubu, however, emphasised that the occasion was only a demonstration that would enable the INEC to evaluate the available technology and where necessary finetune its specifications before proceeding to the next stage.
He said that the next stage would involve the participation of stakeholders, adding that details of the next steps would be given at the end of the demonstrations.
“ The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections.
“Let me reassure Nigerians that the Commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of EVMs in elections in earnest.’’
INEC Director of Information and Communication Technology, Mr Chidi Nwafor, speaking on the modality of the presentation, said the companies would make their presentations in batches, either physical or virtual via zoom.
Nwafor said that only three companies would make their demonstration on Monday, while seven companies would be presenting their demonstrations in the next batch, scheduled for Sept. 30.