We will not repeat Osun mistake in the general elections – INEC


…As mock accreditation with BVAS kick-starts across the nation

Joel Oladele-Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured Nigerians not to repeat the mistake made in the Osun state July 16 governorship election in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

The chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu made this vow while addressing journalists on Saturday during a visit to selected polling units in the Federal Capital Territorial, Abuja as part of the mock accreditation exercise ahead of the February 25th and March 11th elections.

Recall that INEC had in September last year admitted there were lots of errors on the unsynchronized BVAS Report dated 29th July, 2022, as a result of non-synchronization of data information with the primary Bimodal Voter Accreditation System(BVAS) Machine as at the date of application and issuance which resulted in false over voting in the 750 polling units in Osun state governorship election.

Professor Mahmood said one of the lessons the commission has learned is to be able to transmit accreditation data alongside election results as against the usual practice of transmitting only the election results on the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).

He reiterated his confidence in the efficiency of BVAS and assured Nigerians of free, fair and credible elections.

“The BVAS has never failed anywhere and obviously I’ve seen here the machine actually never failed. I wouldn’t like to comment on a live matter in court but in every situation the commission learns carries the experience from what has happened towards improving the processes for the next election.

“We have learned some lessons from what happened and one of the lessons is to be able to transmit the accreditation data. So we have assembled results sheet here that will transmit the accreditation data. But there are no results sheets because people have not voted.

“So on the IReV portal, we have created a new URL for those of you that are on the IReV portal. And if you go home after 230 You will see the result of the mock transmitted from the 437 polling units nationwide, including the details of accreditation and we are going to transmit both the results on election day and the accreditation figures

“So the two will rhyme; by this we are given assurance that on election day, both the accredited data and the actual votes cast will be transmitted simultaneously and accurately.” Professor Mahmood said.

Two of the polling units visited in Abuja by the INEC boss are: AMAC City Centre 018 NIPOST, Area 10 and Bwari Sarki, near Chief’s Palace, Bwari.

Speaking further, the chairman added that
The essence of such exercise is to achieve the integrity of the machines before deploying them to over 400 polling units across the nation on election days.

“Essentially, what we intend to achieve is to further test the integrity of the machines that we are going to deploy on election day. We are satisfied with the tests carried out in our office, but we needed to test the machines in the field ahead of the election.

“Bearing in mind that this is the first time we are deploying the machines nationwide. So we have identified 436 polling units nationwide on the equality of tests of the Federation, on the basis of two local governments per senatorial district, and four polling units per local government making a total of 16 polling units per state, on the basis of which we have now deployed the machines.”

Professor Yakubu therefore expressed satisfaction in the outcome of the two polling units visited. However, he noted that an alternative arrangement has been made in case of any failure on the part of the machines on election days.

“In the FCT, there are four polling units earmarked for the test. This is one of the polling units. The other one is the one we visited in the post office. And so far, so good voters have been verified using their PVCs and then authenticated, using their fingerprint or facial on the basis of which they will be given the ballot papers on election day after successful accreditation.

“In the two polling units have visited so far. There is no report of failure. The machines are performing optimally. And this is the report we’re getting so far nationwide, but we have also made contingency arrangements like we will do on election day, that there is a spare machine in case and in the unlikely event of a malfunction.

” We will be able to respond and fix the machines. But so far, so good. No incident, no failure, and we’re hoping and praying. Having worked very hard on February the 25th and March the 11th the machines will also perform optimally.”

Talking about the speed of the BVAS, he said: “Well, you have seen so far. In this particular polling unit the last person accredited in our presence took less than 30 seconds to accredit and this is the report we are getting from all the polling units nationwide. So the speed is good and also the authentication is good.”