Prof Attahiru Jega, the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), emphasized that the electoral body owes Nigerians an explanation for the failure of its Result Viewing Portal (IReV) and Bimodal Voter Registration Systems (BVAS) during the 2023 general elections.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Inside Sources with Laolu Akande, Jega attributed the challenges to interference by desperate politicians who allegedly exploited the introduced technological systems for accreditation and electronic vote transmission.
During the February 2023 presidential and National Assembly polls, opposition parties raised concerns about INEC officials’ inability to electronically upload election results to the IReV, as required by Section 60 of the Electoral Act 2022. The parties opposed the manual collation of results and the declaration of winners based on these outcomes.
While INEC acknowledged glitches preventing real-time result transmission, it promised corrective actions. However, opposition parties contested the victory of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in court, arguing that the technological setbacks compromised the electoral process. Tinubu’s victory was later upheld by the tribunal and the Supreme Court.
Jega acknowledged INEC’s positive intentions but highlighted that certain politicians found ways to bypass the IReV and BVAS systems, emphasizing the need for a transparent explanation from the electoral body.
He said, “In 2023, INEC did its best under very difficult circumstances and a lot of these difficult circumstances were caused by the mindset of our selfish politicians who wanted to win by hook or by crook.
“INEC has overtime introduced technology to make the process of election results very transparent with integrity but from my own experience when I was in INEC from 2011 to 2015, and I suspect that a lot of that has continued to be so up to 2023, our reckless politicians try to be a step ahead of INEC; if you introduce something today and you try it, they try to be a step ahead of you and beat it by the next election. And of course, they can also use ways and means to not only truncate but also bypass something that has actually been put legitimately in order to add to the integrity of the process.
“If you ask my opinion, I feel very strongly that INEC needs to tell us more about what happened with the IReV. In fact, at one point, I was even calling for a thorough public inquiry about what happened with regards to IReV. I feel that something has happened, that in spite of the confidence and the very articulate manner the INEC chairman (Mahmood Yakubu) had spoken about the IReV and it then failed.
“I believe that some of our reckless politicians may have infiltrated it and truncated it but INEC will take the blame for that.”
According to him, once the court cases are resolved, “we need to go back to the bottom of what happened with the IReV”.