Card Readers On Election Credibility (Issues And Prospects)
The use of the card reader in the 2015 general elections generated debate among election stakeholders before, during and after the elections. This study on the card readers on election credibility (issues and prospects)in Nigeria will cover the processes involved in the conduct of 2015 presidential election with special focus on the influence of card reader on the outcome of the election. The study was conducted through random sampling technique. The sample was made up of one hundred (100) subjects drawn from ten (10) secondary schools. The questionnaires were meant to elicit information from respondents and it consisted of twenty (20) items well designed for clarity on the effect of card readers regarding election credibility in Nigeria. The results of the study showed that there is significant relationship between card readers and 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria and that the Federal Government should assess and consider reforms to portions of its current electoral law; ones that seem to weaken the Nigerian state responsiveness to electoral offences.
1.1 Background to the Study
The use of card readers at the 2015 general election in Nigeria has infused some level of transparency and credibility into Nigeria’s electoral process (Okonji, 2015). It was observed that when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) first announced its plan to introduce card reader machine for the March 28 and April 11 2015 general elections, many Nigerians, especially politicians, vehemently opposed to it. They felt the country has not developed to a level where such technology can be employed for elections. Besides, they felt the uses of card reader would disrupt the entire electoral processes.
The public outcry that greeted the planned introduction of card reader machines was enough to discourage INEC from introducing it. However, because of INEC confidence in the efficacy of modern technologies in achieving quick results, coupled with its vision to transform the country’s electoral process from its old norms that was characterized by ballot box snatching and multiplicity of ballot tomb-printing, INEC went ahead and introduced the technology against all odds (Vanguard, 2015). However, many technology experts in Nigeria and outside, who monitored the elections are full of praises for INEC for insisting on the use of card reader machines, saying it is the best thing that has ever happened to the Nigerian electoral process in the area of election transparency. They have called on the electoral umpire to introduce card reader machines in subsequent elections, believing it is a sure way to achieve transparency and credibility in every election.
Election is the process of choosing a candidate for public office. Election is a critical component of any democratic society. As such, Nigeria’s returned to democratic rule and engagement with the democratic process led to the conduct of its general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. General elections are elections conducted in the federation at large for federal and state elective positions (The Electoral Institute, 2015). The 2015 presidential election appears to be the most keenly contested in the history of elections in Nigeria because it was the first time about four major opposition parties came together to form a very strong party, All Progressive Congress (APC) in order to challenge the dominance of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the polity. Indeed, according to Omotola (2013), the election became the only game in town, shaping and reshaping public discourse and political actions.
Prior to the 2015 general elections, a number of technologically based reforms (e.g. biometric Register of Voters, Advanced Fingerprints Identification System) were embarked upon by the new leadership (headed by Prof AttairuJega) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the election management body empowered by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to organize, undertake and supervise all elections in Nigeria.
However, despite the confidence of INEC in the use of card reader in the 2015 general elections, the machines came with some challenges, even though the elections have been widely adjudged as being successful. For instance, during the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections across the country, the card readers malfunctioned in several polling units, a situation that caused undue delay in the accreditation process. It, however, worked perfectly in other polling units. The challenges ranged from rejection of permanent voter’s card (PVC) by the card readers, inability to capture the biometrics from finger tips, to irregular capturing and fast battery drainage. INEC officials have to abandon their polling units and took the card readers back to their office for proper configuration. In order to salvage the situation, which was almost becoming frustrating, INEC ordered the use of manual process for accreditation, But before the order could go round the states and local government areas, it was already late to conduct accreditation and actual voting in some areas, a situation that forced INEC to extend the exercise to the next day in all affected areas.
Concerned about the massive electoral fraud witnessed in the past general elections in Nigeria, INEC deployment of the card reader in 2015 general elections was to ensure a credible, transparent, free and fair election in order to deepen Nigeria’s electoral democracy. However, the used of the electronic device in the 2015 general elections generated debate among election stakeholders before, during and after the elections.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The 2015 presidential election was the closest electoral contest since the country’s post-1999 transition to multi-party democracy (International Republican Institute, 2015). The election is the most politically engaged in the history of electoral democracy in Nigeria. Huge resources were used for the elections including 120 billion naira expended by INEC, 750,000 ad-hoc election staff with over 360,000 security personnel including the use of card readers to ensure credibility and transparency. The presidential election was contested by fourteen candidates from different political parties. However, the candidates of the PDP (Dr Goodluck Jonathan) and APC (General Muhammadu Buhari) were the major contenders in the election. However, the researcher is out to examine the card readers on election credibility (issues and prospects)in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the card readers on election credibility (issues and prospects) in Nigeria.
- To examine the reliability of the card reader during the electoral process.
- To identify the limitations in the use of the card reader for elections in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the effect of card readers on election credibility (issues and prospects)?
- What is the reliability of the card reader during the electoral process?
- What are the limitations in the use of the card reader for elections in Nigeria?
- HO: There is no significant relationship between card readers and 2015 presidential election credibility in Nigeria
- HA: There is significant relationship between card readers and 2015 presidential election credibility in Nigeria
1.6 Significance of the Study
The following are the significance of this study:
- The outcome of this study will educate the general public on the benefits of the use of card reader for elections.
- This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 Scope / Limitations of the Study
This study on the card readers on election credibility (issues and prospects)in Nigeria will cover the processes involved in the conduct of 2015 presidential election with special focus on the influence of the card reader on the outcome of the election.
Limitations of Study
Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
This chapter is a summary and conclusion of the entire research work.
The chapter is treated under the following sub-headings:
- 5.1 Summary of the Study
- 5.2 Conclusion
- 5.3 Recommendations
5.1 Summary of the Study
In summary the core subject matter of this study was to look at the effect of card readers on election credibility in Nigeria. The use of the card reader generated debate before, during and after the 2015 general elections. However, the significant impact of the device despite its challenges during the election cannot be quantified. In the first chapter, the background of the study examined the public outcry that greeted the planned introduction of card reader machines which was enough to discourage INEC from introducing it. However, because of INEC confidence in the efficacy of modern technologies in achieving quick results, coupled with its vision to transform the country’s electoral process from its old norms that was characterized by ballot box snatching and multiplicity of ballot tomb-printing, INEC went ahead and introduced the technology against all odds (Vanguard, 2015).
Though, INEC deployment of the card reader was to improve the electoral process and deepen the democratic process. However, lack of trust, suspicion and altercations among the stakeholders with vested interest in the election created tension within the body polity. With the use of the card reader in the 2015 general elections and the gradual deployment of technology in subsequent general elections in Nigeria, the prospect of Nigeria belonging to one of the countries of the world where elections are driven largely by technology is nearby To verify the efficiency of the use of card reader, we conducted a ‘mock election test were conducted before the election’ and deployed the proposed system for the election. Card reader machine were used as nodes with each card reader signifying a polling unit with customized voter card. Because of the financial implications, two card readers are used in each polling unit. Electorate present themselves for accreditation before voting. The arrangement suffice for the ‘test election’ for which it was adopted, even though it was believe that such scenario is not work in the general election ( Ekuwem, 2015). Registered voter were accredited with the use of card reading machine. The card reader face challenges during the March 28 presidential election in some polling unit. ). In the statement of the problem, huge resources were used for the elections including 120 billion naira expended by INEC, 750,000 ad-hoc election staff with over 360,000 security personnel including the use of card readers to ensure credibility and transparency.
INEC through its National chairman announce the use of incident form. Some INEC official and polling officers took the advantage of incident form to influence vote figure in their polling unit. But the case is different in the Governorship and state house of assembly election. In the April 11 Governorship and state house of assembly election INEC through its National chairman announce that all accreditation should be done with the use of card reader. The use of card reader has reduce election fraud when compare with the 2011 general election in Nigeria. Chapter three was able to presents the design or methodology for the collection and analysis of data and testing of hypothesis, sample size of 100 was used, owing to the fact that incorporating more than two million people relating the Nigeria population into the research would have jeopardize the certainty, reality and realistic of the study. Pearson Correlation Coefficient) was used to test the hypothesis in chapter Four and chapter five decide to summarized the whole work and also look at some pertinent recommendations to help in further research on this area.
The limelight of the study was the effect of card readers on election credibility in Nigeria. The study through the hypothesis showed that there is related variable, in other words, we now have the following hypothesis:
There is significant relationship between card readers and 2015 presidential election credibility in Nigeria.
The whys and wherefores was shown when hypothesis was tested and also supported in the previous studies carried out by other researcher as seen in review of related literature in the study. Okonji said that the use of card readers at the 2015 general election in Nigeria has infused some level of transparency and credibility into Nigeria’s electoral process (Okonji, 2015).
Observable contradictions notwithstanding, the Smart Card Reading Machine have become a legacy for which history would continue to remember and possibly honor the former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission. It has to be emphasized in this study that the card reader has now thrown up an entirely different phenomenon in the electoral system of Nigeria. Long before the introduction of the card reader, politicians had taken it for granted that the electoral success of a contestant did not depend on the collective will of the electorate. This feeling was indeed, true because politicians, as long as they had the needed money and influence, were very easily able to manipulate the electoral system and got themselves declared victorious in a contest, even when it was obvious that they were not the people’s choice.
The outcome of this illegitimacy was that those that were elected through such manipulative acne had no regard for the electorate and, so, were completely insensitive to the plight of the masses. But with the smart card reader, every one now should have realized that Nigeria has reached a stage where electoral success would have to be determined entirely by the voting population. Anybody that has a permanent voter’s card has automatically become a stake-holder. Politicians that are known to be pompous and arrogant have been rendered irrelevant and ineffective in the present dispensation of things. This is a very positive way of strengthening the country’s democracy, as every vote now matters and counts.
Therefore, it is recommended that:
- The card reader has been introduced and has equally come to stay; it has become indispensable that its use should form a legitimate integral part of the country’s electoral laws and system.
- The eighth National Assembly of the Nigerian legislatureshould legitimize and formalize the use of the smart card reader by giving it a legal backing.
- There should be an amendment to the present electoral law or act as to give the use of smart card reader a legal existence.
- The management of Independent National Electoral Commission should successfully invest on appropriate human capacity on the use of the smart card reader.
- The company that would manufactured the electronic equipment should be liberal enough to deeply drill Nigerian officials in the technical-know-how of the card reader so that indigenous Nigerians would, at the slightest notice, handle any technical challenge that could arise in the course of an election.
- The card reader should be improved upon in the run up to the 2019 general elections.
- National Assembly should create independent court to frontally treating electoral offences/offenders more seriously and making deterrents of culprits.
- Federal Government should assess and consider reforms to portions of its current electoral law; ones that seem to weaken the Nigerian state responsiveness to electoral offences.
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