INEC to resolve BVAS challenges before Ekiti, Osun polls – Yakubu

Ahead of the June 18 and July 16, 2022 Ekiti and Osun governorship elections respectively, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said in order to provide more eligible voters with the opportunity to register, it is considering the devolution of the exercise nationwide beyond its state and local government offices.

Yakubu also said party primaries for the Osun governorship election would begin today 16th February and end on 12th March 2022 while that of Ekiti was concluded 29th January 2022.

Prof Yakubu also said the commission “decided to devolve the CVR exercise to ward level in both Ekiti and Osun states to enable more citizens register.”

Speaking at a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) Tuesday in Abuja, Prof Yakubu stated that the devolution of the CVR exercise to other designated centres was one of the major issues for discussion at the meeting.

“In view of the forthcoming elections, the Commission has decided to devolve the CVR exercise to Ward level in both Ekiti and Osun States to enable more citizens register.

“Similarly, in order to provide more eligible voters with the opportunity to register, the Commission is considering the devolution of the exercise nationwide beyond our state and local government offices where the registration currently takes place. The devolution of the CVR exercise to other designated centres is one of the major issues for discussion at this meeting.”

He reminded the RECs that the commission was preparing to conduct bye-elections in four states of the federation to fill six vacancies in the House of Representatives and some State Houses of Assembly.

Other issue of discussion at the meeting, according to INEC chairman, was “the balanced distribution of voters to polling units nationwide. Last year, the commission achieved the historic feat of expanding voter access to polling units nationwide.

“The idea is to decongest the densely populated polling units by converting the erstwhile Voting Points (VPs) and Voting Point Settlements (VPS) to polling units and relocating some of them to unserved and underserved areas to make it easier for voters on election day.

“While this lofty goal has been achieved in many states, there are still congested polling units and other polling units with between 0 and 50 voters as we saw in some of the recent elections.”

As a solution, Yakubu said, “over the next few weeks, the commission will intensify efforts to address the issue ahead of the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and ultimately the 2023 General Election. Finding a solution to this issue is one of the reasons for convening this meeting.”

“On election day administration, the commission has over the years made giant strides in improving electoral logistics, staff recruitment, training, deployment and the introduction of technology for voter verification and authentication.

“The creation of Registration Area Centres (RACs) improved the early opening of polls. The benefits of these new innovations to the electoral process and the credibility of our elections have been enormous.

“The outcome of elections conducted since the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the Isoko South I State Constituency bye-election, followed by the Anambra state governorship election and most recently in the FCT Area Council election has been positively adjudged by observers as credible.

“However, the challenges to the optimal functionality of the device are acknowledged and we are working on them.

“When the commission introduced the BVAS last year, the compact device was intended to achieve two objectives. First is the verification of the genuineness of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and the fingerprint or facial authentication of voters during accreditation.

“Secondly, to replace the Z-pad for uploading the polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on Election Day. So far, the BVAS has performed optimally in verifying the authenticity of PVCs and uploading images of Polling Unit results to the IReV. “We will review and improve its functionality for biometric accreditation of voters in the forthcoming bye-elections and off-season Governorship elections before the 2023 General Election.

“The commission remains convinced that the deployment of technology in our elections safeguards the integrity of the vote and provides a better guarantee for electoral credibility than the best manual process. The review of Election Day administration in general is one of the issues to be discussed at this meeting,” the INEC chairman said.

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