Ekeh, Zinox chief tells reps Nigeria is ripe for e-voting
Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, chairman of Zinox Group, Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) conglomerate, has declared that the time is ripe for Nigeria to deepen its democratic culture through the full deployment of electronic voting during elections.
He made the call at a retreat organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter as the country marked the 17th anniversary of its transition to democracy last week in Abuja.
In attendance at the retreat were Yakubu Dogara, speaker, House of Representatives; Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Senator Abubakar Kyari, Senate Committee chairman on INEC; was represented by Senator Abu Gumel; Chairperson of the House Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter, Mrs. Aisha Dukku as well as other distinguished members of the committee.
Ekeh, who featured as the keynote speaker at the retreat, disclosed that with the rapid pace of global technological advancements, Nigeria stands to reap a lot of benefits from the deployment of e-voting, stressing that the initiative will go a long way in reducing litigations and strengthening the faith of Nigerians in the electoral process.
While delivering a paper titled – New thoughts, ideas and innovations on use of ICT in elections – Ekeh affirmed that the gains recorded with the use of the card readers in the 2015 general elections goes a long way to show that with the adoption of e-voting, the country will take a huge leap towards sound democratic governance.
“In your life, there must be a little bit of disruption for you to move forward. The country is ripe for transition to electronic voting. A lot of us are in this business because technology does not lie – it’s either you are right or you are wrong. With the use of the card readers in the last general elections, we saw a significant reduction in electoral fraud and other electoral malpractices. However, a few challenges were also encountered as no technology can be said to be 100% perfect.
“A country cannot move forward where the elected leaders who take decisions are not the choice of the people. It’s like running a company and you are a shareholder in that company. If your son is not qualified to lead, you will be destroying that company by manipulating the system to favour that son. So, this was the essence of our submission to INEC on the adoption of electronic voting – that things should be done professionally with your support and that of the entire nation.
“Today, there are about 774 local governments in the country and each one with about 10, 800 polling units, some of which are in the riverine areas. Even if INEC purchases 1000 vehicles, it will still find it difficult logistics-wise to cover all the areas and this leaves the process open to manipulation by emergency contractors as INEC lacks the requisite man-power.
“If finally adopted and implemented, electronic voting will ensure that you now have reasonable infrastructure to handle this. While you have the mobile units and active screens at the polling units, the database of registrants or eligible voters is sitting at the national database of INEC. Once a voter’s number is entered at the polling unit, it pulls up the details of the voter from the list of registered voters. Verification will no longer be a problem and during voting, once a voter clicks on the icon of a chosen party, the same information hits the INEC back-end. This will go a long way in reducing litigations as INEC can provide verifiable evidence in court.