By Dapo Akinrefon
“To deal with the opacity around the collation process for more transparency, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) embarked on piloting a number of innovations to evaluate their strengths and pitfalls in order to get a resilient remedy to problems associated with election results collation”.
With these words, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini, spoke on the strategies INEC used to ensure that the just concluded governorship election in Edo State was largely successful.
Among the innovations was that about two million people watched the results as they moved through collation stages on INEC portal.
The Edo election has been adjudged by many observer groups as among the best in Nigeria’s history after the June 12, 1993 presidential election won the late Chief MKO Abiola.
“That (rigging during collation) was what brought about this innovation using technology to ensure that declared polling units results are published to the whole world in real-time, hence they can no longer be changed at collation centres by Collation and Returning Officers”, Igini told Sunday Vanguard in an interview.
He went on: “It is an anathema for a candidate to win election at polling units but suddenly loses the election at the collation centre contrary to the will of the people.
“For me, upturning the verdict of the people at the collation centre constitutes a devaluation of the ballot and reduces election to a mere ritual without choosing.
“Furthermore, it is now difficult for a compromised official to change, alter or swap original Form EC8A result-sheets with those prepared by politicians on the way to collation centre because the Ward Collation Officer would have seen the already uploaded polling units result on the platform before the Presiding Officer gets to the collation centre in compliance with the step-by-step manual recording of results under Section 73 of the Act.
“The latter serves the purpose of an audit trail when required after the election.
“Election results at polling units hitherto accessible to only poll officials are now available to everyone.
“In fact, in the Edo election the public result viewing portal was upgraded to accommodate up to two million viewers to follow the election results as they were published in each polling station where election was concluded.
“So far, it has worked well in two off-season elections and, hopefully, stakeholders will allow the innovations to improve elections integrity and not find ways to scuttle it, if they are not already finding means to sabotage the innovations that Nigerians have fully embraced and are satisfied with while expecting more improvements”.
Watch out for the full interview