The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, has said the only way the military and other security personnel can stay neutral in Nigeria’s electoral process would be in the use of electronic voting by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said this yesterday in Abuja at a post 2019 elections stakeholders’ round table organised by the Centre for Transparent Advocacy (CTA).
Buratai who was represented by, Brig. Gen. John Ochai, said politicians exploits the abnormalities in the electoral system to perpetrate crimes, as it seems lucrative to them.
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According to him, security operatives usually deployed on election duties cannot afford to be aloof when their core responsibility revolves around ensuring law and order in any given situation.
He said that one of the best ways to change the narratives would be in making electoral manipulation a futile activity.
“We in the Army do our own post-mortem after every election and one of our findings is that one way of avoiding crimes on election days is in ensuring the futility of their actions. My opinion is that we should look at ways of using science and technology to make it futile to commit crimes, if you look at it closely, during elections, the usual targets are the INEC staff, their offices, result sheets but by the application of science and technology, it can be brought under control.
“For instance, if thugs come and snatch result sheets with the aim of forging results, it will be futile for them because results would have been transmitted electronically to the appropriate quarter, which in this case is INEC server.
“I would want to see a situation where election is done by voting with your phones. A time when Nigerians in diaspora vote from wherever they are, then there will be less opportunity for those who want to manipulate the process. On the day of election, you will see less of police on the streets and the military will remain in their barracks,” he said.
But INEC’s National Commissioner, Haruna Mohammed differed with Ochai on e-voting solutions, saying that despite the obvious benefits of applying it, there was need for caution.
According to him, Germany with all its technological advancement still does manual voting and that INEC was being wary of electronic processes because of the possibility of hacking into their systems.
“INEC shares in this sense of technological solutions, for us its inevitable, but we need to be very careful, in elections we do not trust technology, technology has its own limitations, when we go there the nature of communication might change, this time they might hack into the site, the solution is in the attitude of Nigerians,” Haruna said.
Earlier, the CTA Executive Director, Ms. Faith Nwadishi, said that the 2019 elections have come and gone, but critical stakeholders must continue to review, appraise the outcomes, learn from mistakes made and of course rejig the process ahead of the forthcoming elections and the 2023 elections which is about 1,199 days away.