THERE are concerns that politicians could take advantage of the failure of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to influence the outcome of the ongoing Anambra gubernatorial election.
The device recently adopted by the electoral umpire -the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – is expected to aid the smooth running of the election by enabling human recognition through biometric verification mechanism, using fingerprint and facial recognition.
However, available facts have shown that the system touted to have the capacity of providing a credible election to Nigerians has witnessed fundamental challenges.
“There is a massive voter turnout out as early as 7.30 am in several polling stations. However, about one-third of them had not been accredited to vote according to our findings.
“There are still some fundamental logistic issues with regard to the BVAS. The electorate came out en masse and many were frustrated they couldn’t get accredited till 1. pm. So, INEC must ensure that there is a standby machine to enable those long in the cue to vote,” Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and Head of Transition Monitoring Group Auwal Rafsanjani said in a monitored television broadcast in Abuja.
He expressed concern about the inability of the commission to be present in some polling stations.
“There are still faultlines and concerns that we are seeing and we are taking records of that. In some polling units, there were no officials as early as 1. PM and this is not a good development. We will still make our findings submitted to the electoral umpire at the end of the exercise.
“We urge INEC to fix the logistic problems and ensure no one is disenfranchised in the election and draw some lessons for the subsequent electoral polls.”
He warned that the peace currently being witnessed in the ongoing polls could elude the people if it was not rewarded with credible electoral polls.
Recall, the two leading candidates at the election -Valentine Ozigbo of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Charles Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – had complained about the inefficiencies of the voting machine, expressing worry over the credibility of the electoral process.
Also, available records show that the malfunctioning of the BVAS has also been reported in other local government areas, including Onitsha North LG; Awka South LG; Aguata, Orumba and Awka North, among others.
A former Director of Voter Education and Publicity at INEC Oluwole Osaze-Uzzih said there were possibilities of politicians distorting the sanctity of the election, urging the INEC to improve the electoral process.
“There are still concerns about the credibility of the polls with the current challenge we are having. There is the possibility of the politicians and even the electorate exploiting the process. We must seek a way to improve the tech and not try to resort to incidence form, which is not good for our electoral process.”
He noted that most Nigerians exploited the incidence form when it was being used as a backup to the card reader.
“We cannot explore the option of the incidence form at all. What the INEC should do is to ensure that they improve on the logistics subsequently and ensure that this incidence repeats itself at several other staggered elections and 2023 polls,” he further said.
Ike Daniels, who could not vote at Fegge in Onitsha South LGA due to BVAS failure, feared that it might be a ploy to manipulate the election.
“I hope it is not a tactic to rig the election. Doing that will result in crisis in an already tense state,” he warned.