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Kaduna and digital voting: Classes for Nigeria, By Reuben Abati

“We don’t imagine in dishonest or rigging elections but in addition we don’t need different events to cheat us, and that was why we inspired the Kaduna State Impartial Electoral Fee to give you a fool-proof voting course of.” – Nasir el-Rufai

The prefatory assertion above belongs to Nasir el-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna, one of many few governors who’ve persistently demonstrated religion within the deployment of know-how to guard the integrity and credibility of the electoral course of in Nigeria. He’s the one one who has given impact to his conviction. In 2018, Kaduna state beneath his watch, performed elections with an digital voting system. This was the primary time anybody in Nigeria would undertake digital voting, and the second case of digital voting in Africa, after Namibia. That yr, the then extant regulation specifically the Kaduna State Impartial Electoral Fee Act No. 10 of 2012 was amended, to ascertain digital voting in Part 16 (3) thereof. There have been allegations of a number of voting and different challenges. However this didn’t deter Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.

On September 4, his administration repeated the identical “offence”, if the adoption of recent know-how by African electoral umpires might be so described, by guaranteeing that the Kaduna State Impartial Electoral Fee (KADSIECOM), once more performed elections within the state’s native authorities areas in step with Part 16(3) of the KADIESCOM Act. On the finish of the train, it was reported that the challenges noticed in 2018 had been addressed. A number of voting was now not doable. The software program had been upgraded to disclaim any voter an try and vote a second time. About 18, 000 advert hoc employees have been deployed whose foremost task was the verification of the voter’s register. The Digital Voting Machine (EVM) was a computerized field with easy Cancel and OK buttons that may very well be used even by the illiterate and the aged. You choose the brand of the occasion you wish to vote for, and easily faucet both OK or Cancel – a easy Sure or No alternative. The Cancel button the truth is means that you can change your thoughts. Every EVM was powered by a battery that might last as long as 16 hours. KADIESCOM labored in collaboration with the telecommunication corporations to offer the community for the quick transmission of outcomes. Voting took lower than a minute.

The LGA election in Kaduna State on Saturday, September 4 was certainly not excellent nonetheless. About 11 digital voting machines have been vandalised by suspected hoodlums. This shouldn’t be stunning. Violence is a part of the sociology of Nigeria’s electoral course of. Those that don’t belief the system would all the time discover a approach to violate it. Irrespective of how fool-proof a measure could also be, Nigerians would all the time discover a approach to disrupt it. Oftentimes, out of uncooked scepticism. In the midst of the elections in 19 LGAs, 41 EVMs have been snatched throughout Kaduna State. Ought to anyone be shocked? The EVMs regarded like containers. In common, guide, elections, the poll field is the primary sufferer within the fingers of those that wish to manipulate outcomes. The one distinction with an EVM is that it’s digital and has a digital footprint. Stealing or snatching it’s pointless. The Kaduna State LGA elections have now ended. The APC gained in 15 space councils. However the extra attention-grabbing end result was the disclosure that the Governor, Nasir el-Rufai misplaced to the Peoples Democratic Social gathering (PDP) in his Ungwar Sarki Polling unit in Kaduna North Native Authorities Space. It’s a main dent for a politician to lose in his personal polling unit! It makes no distinction if his occasion wins throughout the complete state. He shall be consistently reminded that he couldn’t even get the endorsement of his personal quick neighbours.

With digital voting, it could be tough to control outcomes, stuff poll containers or thump-print a number of poll papers. It needs to be famous nonetheless, that voter turn-out within the Kaduna Native Authorities elections of September 4, 2021 was very low. It is a nationwide sample, and it is likely one of the ills that should change to correctly deepen participatory democracy not simply in Nigeria, however throughout Africa. The massive hole between inputs and outcomes within the electoral course of in Africa has alienated the folks from the system and from democracy itself. Why exit to vote when there aren’t any ensures that your vote will rely or translate into enhancements in your circumstances? Why vote for individuals who will get into positions of privilege on the wings of your efforts and find yourself forgetting you? The largest risk to democracy in Africa is that this belief deficit and the disconnect between the folks and the precise worth of elections.

This nonetheless shouldn’t low cost the worth of credibility, integrity, transparency and accountability within the electoral course of. That is the target of those that help the thought of digital voting and the digital transmission of outcomes. Twice now, in 2018 and 2021, the El-Rufai administration has proven that it’s doable. There could also be hitches and challenges however these might be recognized and stuck in subsequent elections. It might be argued that Kaduna state is comparatively small (inhabitants – 6- 1 million) in comparison with Nigeria with a inhabitants of over 200 million and 774 native councils). However we now have it on file that ought to Nigeria resolve to undertake digital voting, the Impartial Nationwide Electoral Fee (INEC) can ship on that rating. The GSM operators within the nation have additionally brazenly stated that they will present the required companies. There are actually classes that may be learnt from the Kaduna expertise, and from different nations together with Namibia and the West. The one drawback we now have in Nigeria is the refusal of Nigerian lawmakers on the Federal stage to see the worth of digital voting. The adoption of digital voting by Kaduna State sends a robust message to these members of the Nationwide Meeting who conveniently rushed to the bathroom, or have been absent, or lied shamelessly that there was no cell telephony of their village when the Nationwide Meeting voted on the proposed Electoral Act (Modification) Invoice 2021.

Getting the fitting electoral framework for elections in Nigeria has been a significant concern because the return to democratic rule in 1999: the 2001 Electoral Act, 2002 Electoral Act, 2006 Electoral Act and the 2010 Electoral Act. It has been majorly a trial and error course of. In 2018, forward of the 2019 basic elections, the eighth Meeting handed a Invoice which was forwarded to the President for his assent. The President rejected the Invoice, 4 occasions, on the grounds that the proposed amendments to the regulation couldn’t come into impact as a result of time constraints. We held the 2019 elections, which once more expectedly threw up points in regards to the integrity of the electoral course of and the necessity to modernise elections in step with international finest practices. When the ninth Nationwide Meeting assumed workplace in June 2019, its Chairman, Dr. Ahmed Lawan promised Nigerians that the Electoral Modification Invoice could be handled as a precedence task. Certainly, Lawan saved his phrase, as he did additionally with the Petroleum Trade Invoice. However it’s one factor to make a regulation. It’s one other factor to take action in public curiosity.

What was meant to be a possibility to offer Nigerians with a progressive, forward-looking electoral framework ended up as a farce. Within the second week of July, a bewildered citizens watched as Nigerian lawmakers created an unpleasant scene over Part 52 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act Modification Invoice which said that INEC “might transmit outcomes of elections by digital means the place and when practicable.” The Senate handed the invoice on July 15. The Home of Representatives did so on July 16. Each chambers of the Nationwide Meeting later resolved that the digital transmission of outcomes could be allowed solely with the categorical clearance of the Nationwide Communications Fee (NCC) and the Nationwide Meeting.

Thus, Nigeria’s lawmakers took away the independence of the nation’s electoral physique, a blatant violation of Part 78 of the 1999 Structure, and a brazen try and sabotage the regulation. It was most disgraceful that even opposition politicians within the Nationwide Meeting couldn’t vote within the folks’s curiosity. There have been different issues: the choice to extend marketing campaign bills: to grow to be President, you would wish a minimal of N15 billion, Governor – N5 billion; Senator N1.5 billion, Home of Representatives member N500 million and State Home of Meeting member N50 million. In different phrases, you need to be rich to aspire to any necessary elective place in Nigeria. If this invoice turns into regulation as proposed, solely armed robbers and web scammers would in all probability find yourself in excessive locations on this nation. President Buhari shouldn’t signal the Electoral Act Modification Invoice 2021. It takes the nation backwards, not forwards. It’s the handiwork of cowards and a backward Nationwide Meeting. In Kaduna State, Governor El-Rufai has proven that it’s doable to attempt new choices and prospects, and deploy fashionable know-how to leap-frog the method. The navel-gazing lawmakers within the Nationwide Meeting needs to be known as out. One of many errant ones has since apologised to her constituents for going AWOL when she was most wanted, however there are others, so pompous and confidently ignorant, they only don’t get it.

Alpha Conde and the Coup in Guinea

On Sunday, September 5, 2021, President Alpha Conde, 83, of Guinea Conakry was deposed by a group of former elite army forces led by Lt. Col. Mamady Doumbouya. Conde doesn’t deserve anybody’s sympathy and that doesn’t essentially quantity to an endorsement of the army coup in that unlucky nation. Certainly, Conde is the architect of his personal misfortune, a grasping African chief who thought he was invincible, untouchable and supreme. The images that have been launched on Sunday exhibiting him in a humiliating place, surrounded by the identical troopers who used to guard him was a loud reminder of the ephemerality of energy and the unpredictability of human circumstances. The as soon as nice Alpha Conde regarded very sober. The chief of the coup was his bodyguard. He used to carry an umbrella over his head. As we speak, Conde is on the mercy of Lt. Col, Dambouya. One unsuitable transfer, he, Conde may lose his life. He needed to stay in workplace for all times. He denied the folks of Guinea Conakry the chance to make their very own alternative. What the folks of Guinea couldn’t do, the army have performed it for them. Besides that the unconstitutional take-over of energy in Guinea is totally unjustifiable. The folks of Guinea might have trooped out unto the streets of Conakry and different elements of the nation to have a good time the downfall of a person who held them down, however that’s no justification for a return to army rule. A lot of them eliminated their shirts and screamed: “Doumbouya! Freedom.” However what subsequent for Guinea?

Within the 70s, African political scientists pushed the thought of the robust man as chief and messiah, and therefore accommodated militarism as a car of growth. However by the 80s, the wave of democratisation led by the ideological politics of the USA created a brand new momentum. By the 90s, democracy was the brand new sing-song in most African states. The problem nonetheless has been tips on how to consolidate the features of democracy and its worth chain. It’s most unlucky that in latest occasions, moderately than have a consolidation, Africa is starting to expertise a backward trajectory. The coup in Guinea suits into this sample.

Prior to now, since 2010, there have been coup makes an attempt in Niger (2010, 2011), Guinea Bissau (2010, 2011) Madagascar (2010), DR Congo (2011, 2013), Sudan (2012, 2019), Benin (2013), Libya (2013), Egypt (2013), Gambia (2014), Gabon (2019), Ethiopia (2019) Central African Republic (2021) and profitable coup makes an attempt in Niger (2010), Mali (2012, 2020, 2021), Sudan (2019), Burkina Faso (2015), Egypt (2013) and now Guinea-Conakry (2021). Navy interventions in African politics represent a significant setback for democracy. The coup in Guinea Conakry can solely add to the instability within the Sahel area of West Africa and supply additional stimulus for the brokers of destabilisation – the Jihadists and the terrorists working within the Sahel. ECOWAS Presidents Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, and the UN Secretary Common, Antonio Gueterres have condemned the coup however the worldwide neighborhood should go a step additional and ask Doumbouya and his gangsters at hand over energy instantly to civilian authorities. They’ve suspended the Structure and all establishments as a part of an try and launch a transitional authorities.

It needs to be made clear to them that their riot violates the ECOWAS protocols on Democracy and Good Governance and the Constitutive Acts of the African Union. ECOWAS and AU needn’t fear an excessive amount of about what France thinks. The connection between France and its former colonies in Africa is at finest opportunistic. The direct victims are the long-suffering folks of Guinea.

Guinea is likely one of the most blessed nations on this planet by way of pure sources: the largest iron ore deposit on this planet, gold, diamond, bauxite however in typical African trend, this has not translated into prosperity for the folks. Guinea is successfully one of many poorest nations on this planet. And the issues are usually not far to hunt: corruption, nepotism and dangerous management. Alpha Conde spent his early profession as a radical, progressive, opposition politician. He challenged the federal government of Lansana Conte in 1993 and once more in 1998. In 2010, Conde led the RPG to victory and was thus elected President of Guinea for a primary time period of 5 years. He was re-elected for a second, remaining time period of one other 5 years in 2015. In 2020, when he was purported to step down from workplace, Conde selected to amend the Structure to allow him lengthen his keep in workplace.

Regardless of spirited opposition to this gamble, Conde imposed himself on the folks. He was 82 on the time. He even elevated the Presidential time period from 5 years to 6. In October and November 2020, there have been protests on the streets of Conakry. Nonetheless, he held the election, which he gained in fact, and commenced a six-year time period in workplace, illegally and unconstitutionally. That gamble got here to an finish on Sunday with the coup in Guinea-Conakry. It will have been higher if he was eliminated by the folks themselves in a democratic course of. He promised to be Guinea’s Mandela. He was Guinea’s Caligula. Nonetheless, the cowboys trying like they don’t know their left from their proper should not be inspired to stay in energy and workplace. The creeping collapse of the democratic ethos as seen in Chad, Mali and Guinea-Conakry is an unpleasant burden for the entire of Africa. Different African leaders who’re tempted to sit-tight in workplace ought to be taught from the shame of Alpha Conde.

Reuben Abati, a former presidential spokesperson, writes from Lagos.

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