The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) on Tuesday advised the Federal Government to institutionalise an ICT-driven electoral culture to promote transparency and credibility of elections.
The NCS President, Prof. Sola Aderounmu, said in a statement in Lagos that future elections in Nigeria would be bright with effective application of ICT.
“It is important we institutionalise an ICT-driven electoral culture such that it percolates our polity and governance right into the future.
“In particular, we have to distinguish elections as the best opportunity to encourage political leaders to promote innovation,’’ he said.
Aderounmu said that using ICT to elect credible leaders could motivate successful and satisfied politicians to encourage emerging governments to adapt the innovations to mainstream development and governance.
“As the 2019 elections draw closer, there is no doubt that putting in place relevant ICT infrastructure for the application of adaptable technology in our electoral processes will go a long way to ensure transparency and credibility of the elections.
“It is a welcome development that the leveraging on technology has started, even if rudimentary, with the last 2015 elections that ushered in the present administration,” he said.
Aderounmu added that the application of technology for biometric registration of voters, issuance of permanent voter cards, voter verification and authentication using the smart card reader, helped infiltration of ICT into the electoral process.
He noted that sensitisation and civic education were key in the electoral process and necessary for democracy.
“With the pervasive influence of technology in society today, educating and cultivating Nigerian voters can be done better with digital media such as mobile phone with bulk SMS.
“Others are bulk voice call or inbound interactive voice response and use of web-portals from pre-election polls,” he said.
Aderounmu said that Nigeria could also make use of ICT in constituency delineation, using digital maps and charts for proper voter registration.
According to him, automation of electoral court system, digitisation of ballot papers, use of financial tracking technologies for campaign funds that require the cooperation of financial institutions, are necessary.
He also called for the deployment of motion detectable security cameras at polling booths in addition to cameras attached to the voting system, as well as the use of robots for detecting and diffusing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
According to Aderounmu, Nigeria has yet to take numerous advantages of ICT for the nation’s electoral success.
“Some of the reasons are not far-fetched: political manipulation by political actors is a major challenge.
“Poor power infrastructure, poor education, financial constraints are all militating against adoption of technology in the electoral system.
“For Nigeria to catch up with the world as regards technology adoption, there must be bold policy implementation and demonstration of political will,’’ he said.
Aderounmu recommended that the Federal Government should urgently push for broadband access all over the country through private-public partnership models.
“Government must develop a robust sustainability model, roll out and implement effective local content policy and invest in high-quality Information Technology (IT) manpower development.
“It needs to see to the establishment of IT parks and digital centres in all the 774 local government areas through Public/Private Partnership (PPP) models, and to embrace a unified database for Nigeria,” he said.