Festus Okoye, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Commissioner in charge of Voter Education has affirmed that the Commission has the capacity to transmit result real time from all parts of the country.
Speaking as a guest on Channel TV’s programme, Sunrise Daily Saturday morning Mr Okoye said that over the years INEC has tested and ran different forms of technological and electronic additions to improve the integrity of the elections and they have been successful.
He revealed to the presenters, Ayo Makinde and Alero Edu that elections have already been transmitted and even stored on INEC servers from many zones of the country even in a state like Borno in the midst of security challenges.
He said INEC is ready and capable to ensure that it can transmit results and all that is required is the endorsement of the law to further make the process better.
On electronic voting, he said the Commission is piloting electronic voting machines will also have a paper trail which will be used for audit.
According to Okoye, “We have uploaded results from very remote areas, even from areas where you have to use human carriers to access,” he said.
“So, we have made our own position very clear, that we have the capacity and we have the will to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process.
“But our powers are given by the constitution and the law, and we will continue to remain within the ambit and confines of the power granted to the commission by the constitution and the law”, he said.
He appealed to the National Assembly not to write into the law any electronic device, instead, he wants INEC given powers to deploy any technological device for the betterment of the election.
Okoye said the results are not transmitted into one central portal, but segmentalized, stating further that INEC wants to bridge the gap between polling booths and collation centres.
He said people should habour no fear about the processes of INEC.
The INEC national commissioners said the debate should be about national interest and not personal interest and all INEC wants to do is to use technology to reduce human interference in elections.
Okoye’s position is coming barely two days after the Senate passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which requires the Independent National Electoral Commission to seek clearance from the Nigerian National Communication Commission (NCC) and the National Assembly before deploying electronic transmission of election results in any area.
Senators from the ruling party, with two opposition lawmakers who broke ranks with their party, at the consideration of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, voted 52 to 28 to amend clause 52 of the bill that would have empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit election results electronically during the 2023 general election.
Twenty eight other senators were absent to cast their votes. But THISDAY gathered that many of them were in the chambers before voting begun.
The senators’ tactical rejection of electronic transmission of election results drew flak Saturday from a Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere; the pan-Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and some senior lawyers. But the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) endorsed the senators’ action.
The House of Representatives on Friday passed its own version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, amid a walkout staged by opposition members, with the controversial Clause 52(2) intact, adding that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “may transmit results of the election through electronic means where and when practicable”.
Chuks Okocha in Abuja