Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that holding elections in Nigeria is akin to holding elections in 14 West African nations.
Speaking at an interactive session with online publishers in Lagos on Wednesday, the INEC boss pointed out that Nigeria’s 84 million voter population is the highest in Africa.
According to him, Nigeria’s size and population makes the second largest presidential democracy in the world after the United States.
“It is certainly the second largest presidential democracy after the United States of America. The size of our voter population and elective institutions make elections in Nigeria a huge undertaking, ” he said.
He added: “There are 15 countries in West Africa today, including Nigeria. However, with the current voter population of over 84 million, Nigeria has about 11 million more registered voters than the other 14 countries put together which have 73.6million registered voters.
“Conducting a general election in Nigeria is like holding an election in West Africa and beyond.”
He also debunked notions that holding off season elections were easy pointing out that the recently-concluded Anambra Governorship election as one of the most difficult elections ever held in the country.
The INEC boss said preparations for the elections were held under very difficult circumstances, owing to the razing of the INEC State Office in Awka, and the Monday sit-at-home order directed by the IPOB.
According to him, ballot boxes, vehicles, voting booths, power generators were all brought in from Abuja, Enugu, and Imo states.
He also said that during off season elections, party big wigs usually converge on the state to pile pressure on INEC and other institutions to enable them have their way.
Yakubu however assured that the deployment of new technologies had ensured that results could not be manipulated.
Addressing the issues surrounding the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, he said the deployment of the BVAS in the Anambra election was the second pilot test.
The BVAS, he said, was aimed at achieving two objectives. First is voter accreditation to replace the Smart Card Reader and second is the uploading of polling unit results on the IReVportal to replace the Z-pad.
Yakubu insisted that the challenges witnessed by the machine were more or less from the operators of the system and not the machine itself.
He stressed that some of the better-trained ad-hoc staff withdrew from the election due to the difficult atmosphere at the time. He however hailed the election as credible.