This is election season and here we come again. We saw how they “rolled” in e Ekiti State and folks are heading to court! We can’t continue having acrimony based on the singular fact that people aren’t happy with the outcome of elections. With digital solutions and internet deployment, a lot of frayed nerves can be calmed and we can go about our business normally after the elections. No bad blood, no court cases, no touting, no thugging and no ballot box hijacking. With a click of a mouse, oh using a mouse is even far, with your thumb these issues can be sorted nicely and digitally! Our elections can run in days not a day!
No nation has deployed this in Africa! It’s digital! We have to do “e voting” not that madness that you call electronic voting. With this my proposition, you don’t need to even be at the polling booth to cast to vote! It’s simple just very simple.
We are in the 4th industrial revolution, the era of machine learning, the era of Internet of Things (IoT) we can deploy cloud solutions on our electoral processes and have a Tier IV or even III data center to back it up…. how do we go about this, all we need is broadband and internet and thankfully, this is everywhere.
Get the citizens key into the NATIONAL IDENTITY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION (NIMC) to register all Nigerians and let them have identification number, they don’t even need to have the cards , the can do with the slip…the data base of NIMC would capture age, occupation, Geo location, tribe, state , religion and even blood group …then collaborate with INEC, have a portal that is mobile responsive that citizens can access from any part of the world. This election portal would be different from INEC portal. The portal would go live for the day of the election till two days. As citizens vote in the election via the internet, the analytics would pop up or would be seen by everyone ( no back end) and once in a while the candidate/party manifestoes would pop up that would guide electorates to make an informed decision. With this, a lot of things would be eliminated.
The cost of election would be reduced! The federal government can work out public private partnership with the Telcos and Internet Service Providers like Nigcomsat to offer and deploy free internet to the sites during the period of elections. It can be seen as a corporate social responsibility of these firms. It’s is workable.
The cost of buying electoral material would reduce by half. As of today, over 60 million Nigerians have access to smartphones! These are the people that are eligible to vote. With the aforementioned free internet, even those that do not have access to internet can vote!
Thuggery and hooliganism associated with elections would be reduced by eighty percent! There would be ballot boxes to hijack, no army, police and others to harass. This would make our elections free and fair.
A lot of people have issues worth standing under the sun with touts and urchins calling the shot, they can vote in the comforts of their air conditioned environment and follow the trends and analytics as they unfold. This would erase speculations to the barest minimum!
For the non-digitally inclusive, INEC and other OEM manufacturer like Zinox , HP , Microsoft etc. can collaborate to provide electronic polling station, This electronic polling station is a simple procedure, just a touch screen monitor connected to internet where those that decide to come to the polling stations can be guided on how to vote but not harassed . All they need is their NIMC numbers and a touch to vote online.
The need to buy papers would be eliminated making our elections digitally friendly. We can design such a portal that can enable this be it onsite or remotely.
This mode of elections would enable the new digital ecosystem and bridge the digital gaps and deepen digital inclusion. With this model in place, there wouldn’t be need for rigging and also data of voting trends can be seen example in various regions, states and municipality. Also this data would help in national planning and cohesion. It can be deployed in referendum, plebiscite and other civil actions.
Public sector can use the data of NIMC for planning; let’s take for instance, the number of young voters in Alimosho LCDA or Nnewi South. With this data, there would be no room for speculations; we can have a pin point national planning programs.
As we have been wondering on how to get the Nigerians in diaspora vote, with this solution in place, they can be carried along. This can be done by having NIMC registration centers in Nigerian embassies and high commissions across the world. The identifications numbers are generated automatically. With this in place, Nigerians overseas can have a say in electoral process!
As the election is approaching, the need to start thinking out of the box is imperative. We can design these applications that can be deployed running on cloud. We have data centers like Rack Centre, Medallion and so many of them can sort this out. So the issue of data sovereignty has been solved. Also in the area of cyber security and hacking, we can deploy robust and well known cyber security firms like FPG Technologies.
The questions are; can we do this? Yes, we can and another question is do we have the political will to do this? Then that is left for the government. As of the design of the portal, we can handle that locally. Are we not tired of having inconclusive elections and going to court every time elections are concluded? Are we not tired of wasting time and money planning for elections? With just 10 billion, we can have one of the best elections in Africa! People like us have these ideas, but would they consult us ? Time would tell! We can’t be doing the same thing always and expect a different result! To me that is madness.
Anthony Emeka Nwosu