INEC commissioners differ on ways to improve nation’s electoral process

National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Adedeji Soyebi and Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Sam Olumekun, have expressed divergent views on recommendations for future elections in Nigeria.

Soyebi, who is the South West Coordinator of INEC, spoke at the 2019 State Level Post Election Review in Lagos, advocated electronic voting to deliver Nigeria from election discrepancies, noting that time would come when the country would cross the 100,000,000 voters mark, hence the need for timely preparation to overcome the challenge.

He noted that if the country was indeed ripe for democracy, then it was time to meet 21st century demands and challenges of civil rule.

“Whether we like it or not, if we don’t adopt technology, it will catch up with us. This country can continue to handle elections the way it is doing presently.

“Paper balloting can solve all our problems, we must plan, move steadily and progressively towards electronic voting. The law must provide for this, while training and sensitisation of the electorate must be strengthened.

“It is a matter of time, by 2023 the voter population will hit 100,000,000 and ballot papers involving 100,000,000 people is quite huge. We don’t know how many political parties we will have at that time and that amount of ballot papers could be clumsy,” he said.

But Olumekun disagreed, noting that if politicians shun greed and focus on the country’s wellbeing, elections without electronic voting could work perfectly.

“We have always maintained that the best elections in this country was the 1992 election under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). What electronic method did we use in conducting that election? I think it is not about electronic or manual voting, but the attitude of our politicians.”

Also speaking, returning officer of Lagos East Senatorial District in the 2019 elections, Professor Adebayo Otitoloju advocated reforms in the nation’s electoral process, particularly in the collation of results.

“I advocate reforms that would lead to e-collation, not e-voting. Such reform will lead to collation that will start from the polling units and we can upgrade the smart card readers to be able to start the process and once that is done, most of the discrepancies in our electoral system would be permanently removed,” he stated.