The Independent National Electoral Commission and other election management bodies in West Africa and South African countries have called on the private sector to assist in funding elections because the cost of elections are too high for the government to bear.
This was contained in a communiqué issued after a three-day conference on the opportunities and challenges in the use of technology in elections in Abuja on Wednesday.
The document was signed by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who is also the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions; the President of the European Centre for Electoral Support, Monica Frassoni; and the Chairperson, Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries, Notemba Tjipuena.
According to them, a well conducted or poorly conducted election could be the difference between peace and war.
They added that since the private sector needed a peaceful society to thrive, they could not afford not to get involved in the electoral process.
The statement read in part, “Election management bodies of ECONEC and ECF-SADC regions are aware that sustaining the use of technology in elections is an expensive undertaking.
“This requires the mobilisation of adequate resources, which sometimes may be beyond the capacity of the state to bear as a sovereign responsibility.
“Therefore, the private sector, which requires a stable and peaceful political and socio-economic environment to operate and thrive, should contribute to meeting the cost of elections.”
Addressing journalists after the conference, the INEC boss said there was the need to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technological innovations to improve the credibility of elections.
Yakubu said because of the use of technology, elections were becoming more difficult to rig not only in Nigeria but in most African countries.
He, however, advised election management bodies to see technology as a facilitator and not a panacea for electoral malpractice.
While fielding questions from journalists, the INEC boss said even though the use of technology had heightened the chances of election meddling, it would not affect Nigeria because the country was not using electronic voting.
He further stated that election results would be transmitted both manually and electronically and so there was no reason to fear.
Yakubu added, “The commission is not deploying electronic voting in 2019 but we will deploy technology for the collation and transmission of results without prejudice to the manual processes. We believe that by doing so, we will collate and transmit results more accurately and more speedily.”