The Independent National Election Commission has imported additional Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines that will be deployed nationwide in all voting units for the 2023 elections.
The commission, which received the latest batch of machines at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Tuesday, said this was in line with its contingency provisions for all critical election materials.
National Commissioner and Chairman of the Voter Information and Education Committee Festus Okoye told The PUNCH on Wednesday that INEC would deploy more than 194,464 BVAS machines in 176,846 voting units across the country.
He explained that 176,846 polling stations would receive one BVAS each, adding that each registration area, numbering 8,809, would also receive at least two BVAS as backup in the event of a malfunction, bringing the total to more than 194,464 BVAS machines. .
Okoye said: “We have 176,846 voting units in Nigeria. All of them will have a BVAS. Some voting units may still have more than 750 registered voters. We will implement additional BVAS in such voting units.
“We have 8,809 registration areas in Nigeria. Each one will have at least two BVAS for the purposes of rapid intervention in cases of sustained failure of the BVAS in any of the polling stations of each electoral district.”
Earlier in a statement, Okoye revealed that the election agency received the latest batch of BVAS machines on Tuesday.
He said the commission set up four airport hubs in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt to facilitate the smooth delivery of the machines.
The statement read: “In furtherance of the preparations for the 2023 general elections, the commission, yesterday, January 3, 2023, received the last shipment of bimodal voter accreditation machines 52 days before the elections.
“The commission chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the national commissioners and senior commission officials were at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to receive the BVAS. Officials from the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Aviation Management Company and airport security officials were at the airport to greet the INEC team.
“To facilitate the smooth delivery of the machines, the commission set up four airport hubs in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt. During the last four months, several flights have delivered the BVAS to the designated airports for transfer to the states of the federation before the elections.
“With the arrival of the last flight to Abuja yesterday, the commission has now received the required number of BVAS for all voting units in the country and additional machines in accordance with our contingency provisions for all critical election materials.
“The commission appreciates the support of all Nigerians in its determination to conduct a free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive 2023 general election facilitated by the deployment of technology.”
The Executive Director of the Center for Public Responsibility, Olufemi Lawson, praised the commission for the planned implementation of BVAS in each voting unit, noting that there was a need for stakeholders to analyze the feasibility of the backup machine when it was implemented.
Lawson said: “We must understand that the BVAS is a great improvement on INEC’s effort to provide Nigeria with credible elections in 2023. It ensures that the commission will give Nigerians credible elections because we are confident that every voting unit has already is covered by the available BVAS numbers and we already have extra BVAS units available.
“However, we need to look at the feasibility of the additional BVAS that will become available and how well it will serve as a support base for the machine when deployed for use.”
YouthHub Africa CEO Rotimi Olawale noted that as long as all voting units receive working BVAS, he is confident of a credible election.
“If the BVAS will reach all the voting units in Nigeria, then I have the utmost confidence that the BVAS will help strengthen our electoral process.
“If that is not the case, I think, it will expose INEC to political mischief because why will some voting units receive BVAS and others not? People will start reading you so many meanings. The system must be deployed uniformly throughout the country,” the activist stressed.
Reacting to INEC’s BVAS deployment plan, the national chairman of the Grand Alliance of All Progressives, Chief Victor Oye, said all Nigerians want is a free, fair and credible election in 2023.
“I don’t know if the number of BVAS machines is adequate. INEC knows best what it needs to carry out free and credible elections,” he noted.
This position was shared by the national chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Shehu Gabam, who said: “Perhaps, only INEC can defend the number of BVAS machines knowing the consequences of compromised surveys.”
Meanwhile, before the January 20 deadline, some political parties are still required to submit the lists of their electoral members to the electoral referee.
While the All Progressives Congress said it had submitted a full list of officers assigned to cover the 176,846 voting units across the country, the Labor Party, the New Nigeria People’s Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Grand Alliance of All the Progressives admitted they were still making a last-minute arrangement to meet the INEC deadline.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, APC’s Director of Publicity Bala Ibrahim revealed that the ruling party is a law-abiding political platform that does business ‘by the letter’.
Ibrahim said that in addition to nominating one agent per voting booth, the APC would also put additional people on hold as part of its contingency plan.
He said: “The APC has submitted the poll agent list well in advance of the previous deadline of December 30. The ruling party has been in place ever since. We will have an agent and one other idle person standing at each voting booth. The role of the passive agent is simply to stand by in an emergency.
Labor Party National Secretary Umar Farouk also told The PUNCH that the party had gone far with nominating representatives.
It revealed that the LP was taking its time to fill all 176,846 available slots for agents, including their local, state and national supervisors.
“I think you know that the INEC schedule is not sacrosanct. The new deadline has been set for the end of January and we are even clamoring for the commission to extend it. As far as the Labor Party is concerned, we have gone a long way. We are not falling behind in any way.
“According to the INEC, there must be an agent at each authorized table and another assigned to each local, state and national comparison. I can tell you that all the spaces are filling up as you speak.
“In addition to this, we have our own district, local, state and national supervisors. But that does not mean that the party cannot make arrangements for the contingency,” he stated.
This is contrary to the position of the convener of The Big Tent, Professor Pat Utomi, who stated on July 3 that ‘Third Force’ and the Labor Party planned to deploy at least 15 officers to every polling booth in the country to help save the votes. in the 2023 general elections.
Utomi, who is chairman of the National Consultative Front and leader of the Labor Party, told reporters that the coalition is making many sacrifices to move Nigeria “from state capture by aging oligarchs to getting the nation over its many economic problems. and security.” challenges.”
Speaking to The PUNCH on Wednesday, SDP National Publicity Secretary Rufus Aiyenigba said the process required diligence, adding that the party would submit the names as soon as its Information and Communication Technology Department is done with the exercise.
He said: “We have not shipped because we are not done with the process yet. As we speak now, our IT department staff is doing the necessary paperwork, uploading the agents’ passports and whatever.
“They did not travel for the holidays because of the importance we give to this vital aspect of the electoral process. I’m not sure any party has concluded this process yet because most if not all parties will have representatives in every voting unit across the country.”
Confirming the development, SDP National Chairman Gabam said, “The presentation is taking place in all states. So far, we have done very well. We will meet before the deadline.”
APGA National President
For his part, the national president of the APGA, Oye, assured that the party will do everything possible to beat the January 20 deadline.
“We are still on it and we will finish before the January 20 deadline,” he said.
In a related development, NNPP’s National Publicity Secretary Dr. Major Agbo said his party was compiling the list of agents.
“We are still working on it. Remember that the deadline has been extended until the end of January. For what is being addressed.
“We are sending more than 176,846 voting agents in all units of the country. That’s what we’re trying to do. As a serious party, we are bringing agents to all the polling stations in the country,” he said.