Biometric voters registration and credible election in Nigeria

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There is hope, whether it is founded on reality or not, that Nigeria will have elections that are credible in the year 2023. This feeling of hope can be attributed to a number of different things, one of which is the recently approved bill to update the electoral act. This measure has clauses that will ensure that votes are counted, and it also provides for the electronic transmission of results.

Despite the fact that this amendment had not yet been passed at the time of the election for governor of Anambra state in November 2021, the use of technology in the electoral process insured that the election would be free and fair. This level of optimism is not something that we have only seen once before, and it is widely held that Nigerians are among the most optimistic people on the face of the planet. On the other hand, it would appear that this time the optimism is grounded on solid foundations. The election law changes appear to be genuine, actionable, and believable. The climate in the country is such that there are great expectations that our democracy is deepening to the extent that we are coming closer to having a general election that is free and fair. This is due to the fact that the mood in the country has reached such a point.

However, this optimism is clouded by the fact that Nigerian politicians have always found a way to sidestep the electoral system by employing various forms of manipulation. This reality casts a shadow over the current state of affairs. An optimist is someone who believes that electoral fraud is covert, unintentional, opportunistic, and circumstantial. In addition, he presumes that the majority of vote rigging occurs at the operational and procedural levels, even though there may be some semi-level planning and execution of electoral fraud. Recent occurrences, however, indicate that this perspective may be too hopeful and cynical at the same time. In point of fact, election fraud is systemic, heavily articulated, and coordinated on a much grander scale than any of us could possibly imagine. As a specific example, we will conduct an in-depth analysis of one of the structural factors that has the potential to compromise the “freeness and fairness” of the general election in 2023.

 

The act of registering voters could appear to be the most routine task involved in the election process. The task of registering all eligible voters on the voters’ register, which serves as the foundation for certifying voters while the election is being conducted, is a straightforward one that may be accomplished easily. To ensure a fair and open election, it is imperative that this duty be completed successfully. In spite of this, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) only recently disclosed that 44.6% of voters registered in the ongoing continuous voters’ registration process are either “ghost” voters or ineligible voters. INEC further hypothesises that it may be as high as sixty percent in some states. This also accurately reflects the true state of the existing voter registration that was used in the prior elections. There is no denying the fact that the current voters’ register is riddled with cases of double or multiple registrations, underaged persons, a high number of dead persons, inaccurate assignment of polling booths, and deletion of names of eligible voters. Among the other problems with the register are a high number of dead persons. These hypothetical situations are so absurd that it’s hard to believe they ever exist.

 

The problem of inaccurate voter registration is not one that is exclusive to Nigeria. In the majority of developing countries, democratic elections and the results of those elections have been impacted by electoral register anomalies and manipulations. A legal resolution of an electoral dispute, which frequently has an impact on the legitimacy of the results of elections, was required in Ghana because of a case involving an irregular voters’ register that made its way up to the highest court. During the most recent elections in India, the voters’ register was lacking the names of an estimated 120 million people who were entitled to vote. In addition, the fact that the majority of the casualties were females and members of ethnic minority groups lends credence to the theory that the attack was premeditated and targeted. The problem in the Gambia is that the voters’ record contains the names of a significant percentage of deceased people. Recently in Guinea, there has been an increase in the number of persons on the voters’ register who come from certain districts in order to favour the ruling party. This trend was observed in both presidential and parliamentary elections. The examples are endless.

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