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{OBSERVATION} BVAS Introduction: A Step Forward

BY YAYA ADEMOLA The joy of democracy is the rule of the majority. However, this joy has always been upturned by rogue politicians with the use of thugs and other anti-democratic arm-twisting to compromise the rule of majority for the tiny minority. Put differently, because of lack or inadequate technology, an unpopular politician will win…”
Yusuf
July 29, 2022 6:54 am

BY YAYA ADEMOLA

The joy of democracy is the rule of the majority. However, this joy has always been upturned by rogue politicians with the use of thugs and other anti-democratic arm-twisting to compromise the rule of majority for the tiny minority. Put differently, because of lack or inadequate technology, an unpopular politician will win election through manipulation of electoral processes, inducement, vote buying, intimidation and thuggery, among others. This development has, over the years, made a large number of the people to be apolitical with the slogan, “whether we vote or not, they have decided who will emerge winner.”

Although July 16, 2022 governorship election in Osun has come and gone with the winner celebrating and losers licking their wounds, it was a great departure from the past. What do I mean?  In the previous elections, accreditation would be done first (8:00am -12noon), while voting would commence from noon. Some people would get accredited and go back home to return for voting later afternoon. In the process, some may sleep off or be distracted one way or the other and may not come back to voting again. Hence, the discrepancy between accreditation and vote cast could be fraudulently filled up by politicians having compromised electoral officers and security.

In July 16 election, use of Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) changed the entire pattern. BVAS is an electronic device designed to read Permanent Voter Card (PVC) and authenticate voter. In addition to traditionally using the voter fingerprint to prove that he/she is eligible to vote at a particular unit, BVAS could capture the photo of the voter, scan the barcode or QR code on the PVC or capture last 6 digits of voter ID to verify and authenticate a voter after which he/she proceeds to vote immediately. The process makes accreditation and vote cast equal to each other. It invalidates the use of incidence forms during accreditation. BVAS introduction has virtually eliminated electoral malpractices in so far as it authenticates the identity of voters, making multiple voting and proxy voting impossible and therefore make votes count.

Additionally, the written result of the poll at every unit, having been loudly announced to the gathered voters, is photographed with the BVAS machine, and at once transmitted to the designated collating centre. This is highly innovative and decisive as it eliminates the possibilities of results hijacking and alteration on the way to collation centres, which are traditional engagements of rouge politicians.

Combination of BVAS and a peaceful atmosphere devoid of thugs disrupting processes and snatching of ballot boxes are prerequisites to a free, fair and credible election. The security agencies, especially Army and Police, must be commended for their pro-active measures before, during and after the election. Since return to civil rule in 1999, the July 16, 2022 Osun governorship poll was the freest, most peaceful and credible. From all the 3,010 polling units and 753 voting points which were converted to polling units, there was hardly any single incidence of ballot papers or boxes snatching. There was no report of disruption, fighting or killing which characterised same exercise in 2018. It all went largely peaceful. This development will reduce litigations after election as controversies will not suffice. Osun people are also commended as they exhibited Omoluabi virtues throughout the exercise.

Another person that must be specially commended is President Mohammadu Buhari. Since he became President, he has never, for once, intervened in both staggered states and general elections. He does not and has never used “federal might” to intimidate other political party to favour his own party. This is height of political sophistication that subsequent Presidents should emulate. He demonstrated same neutrality in the APC presidential primaries on June 8, 2022 at Eagle Square, Abuja where many politicians, including the winner believed Mr. President had an anointed hidden candidate but were all surprised. 

Elections remain the widely acceptable means of installing and changing government. The sanctity of Election Day, which is just a day for the voters out of four years for the politicians in power, should be upheld. It is the day for voting citizens to adjudge the stewardship of the political office holders either to retain them having delivered democracy dividends or chase them out having failed. Hence the slogan, “One Day For Electorate; Four Years For Politicians.”

Osun July 16 was a stand-alone guber election where security agencies were drafted from neighbouring states to support the ones on ground. It would have been very nice if Osun electoral success could be replicated in 2023 general elections, especially as far as security of electoral environment is concerned. However, this may be a tall ambition especially with the state of insecurity in the land and elections taking place in all states and Federal Capital Territory simultaneously. Nevertheless, with BVAS and special efforts of our security agencies, people’s votes will count in 2023 general elections. Although, the general elections will largely be between APC and its conjoined twins – PDP, making votes count will checkmate some excesses of rogue politicians who take voting citizens mandate for granted by refusing to fulfil electoral promises made during campaigns. This is a very good step forward for our democracy. Further steps should be taken to severely punish political parties, politicians and thugs who are arrested for attempts to disrupt electoral processes on election days. An election related offences Special Tribunal should be set up where trial will be promptly determined and sentences handed down including suspension/ ban of political parties involved.

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