The Independent National Electoral Commission has criticised the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, for expressing doubts over the credibility of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and Results Viewing Portal which will be deployed for the 2023 election.
The commission expressed shock that the APC candidate could question the efficiency of the technology which had been used in several polls, including the off-season governorship elections in Ekiti, Osun, and Anambra states.
Tinubu had on Monday at the Chatham House in London, United Kingdom, said the electoral body had yet to assure Nigerians of the workability of the BVAS and e-transmission of poll results.
He spoke weeks after the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and the National Organising Secretary, Suleiman Argungu, expressed concerns over the planned deployment of BVAS for next year’s general polls.
However reacting to Tinubu’s uncertainty, the Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, pointed out that the commission has been talking about the features, strengths and advantages of BVAS since 2020.
He stated, ‘’The Independent National Electoral Commission has been talking about the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, its features, strengths and advantages since 2020 when it was introduced to replace our beloved Smart Card Reader.
“At every quarterly meeting that the commission held with leaders of political parties since this BVAS was introduced, and I am talking about more than five meetings, it has always been on the agenda and discussed. My presumption is that both the national chairman and secretary of all the political parties that attend our meetings also brief their presidential candidates about the issues discussed.
‘’More importantly, we have conducted off-season governorship elections in Ekiti, Osun and Anambra states using the BVAS and all of these elections have generally been described and accepted as free, fair, credible, and inclusive by all and sundry. The governors elected have quietly been enjoying their respective tenures. Don’t forget that we also deployed it for the Federal Capital Territory area council election and it was a huge success.
‘’The BVAS has been trending on social media platforms and even foreigners visiting Nigeria for the first are asking: ‘What is this BVAS thing?’’
In response to mischief-makers who circulated rumours that the commission had dumped the BVAS, Oyekanmi explained that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has reiterated severally that there is no going back on the use of BVAS for the 2023 general election.
‘’Therefore, if at this moment in 2022, we still have a presidential candidate of one of the 18 registered political parties, saying he needs assurances on the BVAS or he doesn’t know or appreciate its relevance to the 2023 general election, then something is terribly wrong somewhere,’’ he stated.
But the APC defended the reservations expressed by Adamu and Tinubu on the BVAS, stating that their statements were probably misconstrued.
The APC Publicity Director, Bala Ibrahim, stressed that both men were merely striving to ensure INEC is 100 per cent certain about its readiness for the election.
Ibrahim said, “I think we are misinterpreting or refusing to understand the broader meaning of concerns in this context. The concern raised by both the party chairman and presidential candidate is that justice should not just be done but be seen to be done holistically.
“What they are doing is to ensure that the right things are done to avoid giving room for complaints to be raised after the 2023 elections. The process should not just be left at 99 per cent; it must meet up with the acceptable 100 per cent standard.
“If there is an iota of doubt or anything that can compromise the integrity of the election, it must be looked into. The right thing has to be done.”