Technology exposed INEC to greater public scrutiny, increased pressure –Yakubu

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Deployment of technology in the conduct of elections has exposed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to greater public scrutiny and increased pressure.

Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this, yesterday, in Lagos at the retreat on the Ekiti and Osun off-cycle governorship elections, where he admitted that managing the 2023 general elections would be daunting.

He said  due to exploration in voter populations, the conduct and management of electoral process have become more complex.

“While the commission draws vital lessons from the conduct of the most recent off-cycle elections, managing the forthcoming general election is huge. The voter population, number of polling units, election personnel, security considerations, logistics and so on are enormous.

“Conducting a general election will be an entirely different experience but the principles remain the same. Afterall, following the successful conduct of the Ekiti governorship, some people wondered if the same can be repeated in Osun because of its much bigger size and population. As it turned out, Osun was an improvement on Ekiti. This gives us confidence that working on the same principles, the general election will also be successfully delivered.”

Yakubu, however, noted that on the flip side, technology has ensured seamless voter registration processes as well as adequate and focused voter and civic education programmes.

“The truth is that in the last one decade or so, the conduct of elections in particular and the management of the electoral process in general have become more complex. Voting populations have become larger and more diverse in terms of their voting needs and expectations. The introduction of technology has made election and the electoral process more transparent.

“Electoral commissions are subjected to greater public scrutiny and under increasing pressure to adequately respond to the diversity and complexity of the needs of various electoral stakeholders to ensure seamless voter registration processes, expand voter access to polling units, ensure adequate and focused voter and civic education programmes,” he said.

Yakubu said technology had also provided adequate and prompt information about electoral activities, made adequate arrangements for the prompt commencement of voting activities on election day, address issues of inclusivity for marginalised groups (women, youth, persons with disability and IDPs) and ensure greater transparency in result management and result collation processes.

“Over the last two electoral cycles (2011-2015 and 2015-2019), the Commission made concerted efforts to respond to these diverse and complex needs. Significant improvements have been recorded in the conduct of elections. Overall, elections have become better organised and more transparent. Consequently, there is a huge public expectation to sustain this trend and raise the bar ever higher.

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“The willingness of civil society organisations, election experts and development partners to work with the commission to further improve on our processes is a great source of encouragement. We are fully aware of the reality that good elections have resulted in even greater expectations on the commission to do better,” he said.

The electoral umpire boss also admitted that managing the 2023 general elections would be very huge.

“While the commission draws vital lessons from the conduct of the most recent off-cycle elections, managing the forthcoming general election is huge. The voter population, number of polling units, election personnel, security considerations, logistics and so on are enormous.

“Conducting a general election will be an entirely different experience but the principles remain the same. Afterall, following the successful conduct of the Ekiti governorship, some people wondered if the same can be repeated in Osun because of its much bigger size and population. As it turned out, Osun was an improvement on Ekiti. This gives us confidence that working on the same principles, the general election will also be successfully delivered,” he said.

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