Only fraudulent people will oppose BVAS – Agboke, Osun REC

e mutiu agboke
e mutiu agboke

The important thing is that we cannot determine the preparation of Osun State INEC viz-a-viz the general elections without looking at the entire preparation of INEC nationwide. The commission is one; so, anything that we do is towards a successful conduct of the general elections. We are only here at the state level for administrative purposes so as to give local content to what we do. But to be specific, in INEC generally and particularly in reference to Osun State, all our staff members are being trained at various levels for various ad hoc activities like working as supervisory presiding officer, registration area technicians (those being trained to be to be on standby in case of any emergency regarding the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System). We have been making use of this before now. Our BVAS machines have been reconfigured.

We have taken delivery of our BVAS, particularly in Osun State. We have the reasonable number that we need. We have backups that we require for the elections. Some of the non-sensitive materials have been deployed as well. We are ready in Osun State. If the few things that we require are being placed on a scale of one to 100, I will tell you that in Osun State, we are 99 per cent ready.

That is an insinuation from people who are not optimistic. The idea of the narrative of a threat to the elections stemmed from the position of the commission that if attacks on INEC facilities that we are experiencing in the country should persist till the end of January to early February, then it is a clear threat to the elections that are coming up. It is just an alarm raised by the chairman and that is the position of the commission. So, it was not an indication to say that INEC is looking for an escape route. When the alarm was raised, it was meant for those who were to be affected by the message, and I think they got it, and the message was to ensure that everybody must mount his or her corner.

Don’t forget that election is a multi-stakeholder engagement because INEC alone is not just the one that will deliver credible elections. I have been to the Nigerian Air Force in Ipetu-Ijesa to consult with them and engage with them. I have also been to the Army barrack in Ede and the Osun State Police Command to visit the CP, the NSCDC, the NDLEA, Immigration, Customs, the National Orientation Agency and the Nigeria Correctional Centre to tell them that we have to be on the same page. When INEC Chairman raised the alarm, if some Nigerians saw it as if INEC said that elections would not hold, that is not the message, and I am very happy because the chairman (Prof Mahmood Yakubu), reiterated that the conduct of elections in February is sacrosanct, because all the materials are already on the ground.

Those who are supposed to be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria are already there. The ones that are to be at the state offices are already there too and the ones meant to be sent to local government levels have been sent there too. We are ready for the elections. It will be a thing that will not help democracy if at this stage someone is insinuating that INEC is not ready. The concern of INEC is to conduct, supervise and organise elections because that’s our statutory responsibility by the position of the constitution. It’s the responsibility of another agency of government to ensure that we are protected on Election Day, which is in partnership with INEC.

In the area of orientation and engagement, the National Orientation Agency is another agency of the government because they have the statutory mandate to talk. What we are saying is that all of us must team up. Although insecurity is there, that is not to say that elections will not hold. How can elections be held in an atmosphere of war and gunshots? This is the reality, and we shouldn’t play to the gallery and pretend that all is well. Where all is not well, let us say, it is not well, so that those who are to make it well should make it well. INEC has been involved in continuous engagement on a quarterly basis with the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security. The chairman’s message is very clear, but some people are making a mountain out of a molehill, and we should caution them.

A lot of things have changed about our security arrangement. When I came to the state, I served with two Commissioners of Police – Olaleye Faleye and Kehinde Longe. CP Olaleye Faleye went with us to Ede on that day of the incident. We got there; we saw it and he deployed his men in all our offices in the local government areas in Osun State. I was on tour to some local government areas recently and I met policemen and NSCDC personnel where he visited. In Osun State here, those who are hell-bent on perpetrating violence should be cautioned. We are working together with security operatives here. The Commandant of the Air Force told me that we should not worry and that they were also ready, that their mandate was intact and that they were prepared for the elections. He said all we needed to do was to give them the flashpoints and they were ready to move their men there.

I monitor conversations on radio; I monitor what people are saying because we need to be talking. INEC doesn’t have a political party and does not belong to any political party. Our responsibility is to be in the middle and ensure that we do it very well. Not only that, all our ad hoc and permanent staff members must work according to the regulations stipulated in the law, because some of them have the tendency to want to be induced by anybody on the field. We have told them, and I am still going to call on all of them back again. Whoever is arrested for going against the rules guiding the conduct of the elections shall not only be prosecuted, he or she shall be shamed, and we will call the media and tell them that these are the people that want to mess up our democracy. We have told them that it (conduct of the elections) is by law. We have INEC regulations, Electoral Acts and the constitution.

That is for the security agencies, but we have our own threat analysis to give them. They have the responsibility to specifically identify them. We have our own supposed flashpoints, but they do their own and they know them. So, for the actual names to come out, it has to be from the security and not INEC.

The BVAS is 101 per cent reliable. There is no human influence or interference that can manipulate the BVAS. If anybody wants to do any ‘magomago’, then he will have to abandon BVAS and think of something else to do. Manipulation can’t be done with BVAS. It is so clear because you use the BVAS for both accreditation and result transmission. Technically, the number of voters that are going to vote must be equal to the number of accredited voters. Most of our elections in the past, the flaws have always been from the accreditation. Look at the time we were using smart card readers, that smart card reader would misbehave; we now said let us allow incident form; the incident form in a particular place where 10,000 people would be accredited. At the collation centre, it would be changed to 100,000. That can’t happen with the BVAS; no, it can’t happen.


Whoever is opposed to the BVAS is a product of fraud and manipulation. Anybody that is used to fraudulent practices will oppose the use of the BVAS. That system is a different ball game. Consistently, INEC has been saying that there is no going back on this BVAS issue because in the few elections that had been conducted, the BVAS has shown to us the pattern of voting and acceptability of the people. One of the problems causing voter apathy in Nigeria is that people vote in a pattern, but the results will come out in another pattern. That is why those who are products of fraud are likely to be retired by this BVAS. It guarantees certainty, ensures accuracy and gives confidence to the reliability of results.

Again, the issue of results; you know I said that accreditation is one of the points of manipulation in the process and BVAS has helped us to secure it. The e-result is another thing. Overtime, INEC has been improving on checking the manipulation of results until we got to the BVAS. During the time of smart card reader, it was an improvement and a departure from the previous experience. But total departure now from the fraudulent vote process is the issue of BVAS. The actual results of the election reside at the polling units. If you want to know the raw result, it is at the polling units. When you go to the collation centre, it is the combination of various polling units that you are going to meet at the collation centre. We have the raw results on our portal already and nobody can disrupt that and that is why I told you that BVAS guarantees the certainty of election results.

Technology is a function of human effort. Technology development is meant to facilitate human endeavours and no matter how highly developed it may be, it doesn’t mean that it is not still susceptible to one error or the other. But that error is not enough reason to say it is total rubbish. It is one thing to want to destroy, penetrate, have an incursion into human effort, which is called technology and it is another thing for you to succeed. So, the fact that someone made an effort or attempt to penetrate is immaterial. The fundamental question is, did those individuals succeed? The answer will be in the negative. So, for INEC, the responsibility it has is to build security around its wall so that nobody can be able to penetrate the sanctity of all these devices.

Regarding the issue of voting cubicles, INEC has done something but to the extent of removing absolutely the tendency of buying votes does not fall within the purview of the statutory responsibilities of INEC. The commission, however, has the responsibility to devise a means of ensuring that it is absolutely difficult for those who want to buy votes to buy votes. What has INEC done? Our cubicle has been positioned in a way that it will be far away, a bit from the voting arena; I mean away from where we have the ad hoc staff members, such that once you go to the presiding officer to collect the ballot paper, from there to the point of thumb-printing on the ballot paper, you are on your own and we now have a security man standing in a way that no other person will be allowed to interfere with your voting pattern. INEC has done that.

In fighting vote-buying, INEC included the EFCC and the ICPC in the efforts. I visited the ICPC resident coordinator some weeks ago and he told me that they arrested some people during the last governorship election. I know more arrests will be made. INEC is not the one that will do that, but there is collaboration. As I speak to you, in Osun State, four vote-buying cases are being prosecuted. I can assure you that in these coming elections, we will be on the lookout, and we are also going to be looking for those who are going to be using third party PVCs to come and vote. We learnt that a lot of them have bought third party PVCs; they have bought them from people maybe with a view to using them during the elections or with a view to suppressing them from voting because buying PVCs is as useless as nothing. You cannot use third party PVCs to vote on Election Day.

The problem of uncollected PVCs is not peculiar to Osun State. As we speak, we have 1,956,657 registered voters; the people who have collected PVCs are 1,554,331 and we have 401,326 who have not collected their PVCs. In Osun State, many people have collected their PVCs because the governorship has been held. The collection of PVCs has been devolved to the polling units and the majority have collected their cards. Within the statistics of those cards not collected, we have old cards from 2011 and 2015, and some of their owners have relocated out of Osun State; some of them are no more, but we have not been able to separate them because these are still part of the uncollected PVCs. That notwithstanding, day in, day out, people are still coming to collect it and the number of uncollected PVCs is reducing day by day.

The electorate in Osun State should know that their vote is their power. If the electorate are not important in the election, why are the politicians looking for them to purchase their PVCs? Why are they giving them money? Why are they looking for them? That is to tell them that the electorate are the determinant of their (politicians) lives. Therefore, that card (PVCs) should be guided jealously. They should not sell it; they should not give it to anybody, and they should not compromise.