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THE EFFECT OF CARD READERS ON ELECTION CREDIBILITY IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION)

THE EFFECT OF CARD READERS ON ELECTION CREDIBILITY IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page                                                                                                                  i

Certification                                                                                                             ii

Dedication                                                                                                                iii

Acknowledgement                                                                                                iv

Table of Contents                                                                                                   v-vii

Abstract                                                                                                                    viii        CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study                                                                              1-16

1.2 Statement of the Problem                                                                            16-17

1.3 Objective of the Study                                                                                  17

1.4 Research Questions                                                                                     17

1.5 Research Hypothesis                                                                                      17

1.6 Significance of the study                                                                               18

1.7 Scope of the study                                                                                          18

1.8 Limitation of Study                                                                                         18-19

1.9 Definition of terms                                                                                              19-20

1.10 Organization of Chapters                                                                                 20

 CHAPTER TWO

2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Selected Issues in the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria              21-23

2.2 Security Threats and Election Postponement                                              23-31

2.3 Expiration of Tenure                                                                                           31-33

2.4 Smart Card Reader: The Real Issue in the 2015 General Elections  33-46

2.5 The CMN  Challenges of Smart Card Reader in the 2015 General-

Elections in Nigeria                                                                                              46-50

2.6 Impact of the Smart Card Reader on the 2015 General Elections-

in Nigeria                                                                                                                51- 52

2.7 Smart Card Reader and Future Elections in Nigeria:

The Way Forward                                                                                                 53-55

CHAPTER THREE

3.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.1 Research Design                                                                                                  56

3.2 Area of the Study                                                                                                57

3.3 Population of the study                                                                                  57

3.4 Sampling and Sampling Techniques                                                            57

3.5 Instruments for Data Collection                                                                      57

3.6 Validation of the Instrument                                                                            58

3.7 Reliability of instrument                                                                                58

3.8 Administration of Research Instrument                                                        58-59

3.9 Data Analysis                                                                                                         59

CHAPTER FOUR

4.1 DISCUSSION                                                                                                         60-67

CHAPTER FIVE

Summary, conclusion and recommendation

5.1 Summary                                                                                                              68-70

5.2 Conclusion                                                                                                            70

5.3 Recommendation                                                                                             70-71

References                                                                                                           72-73

 

 

 

 

ABSTRACT

            This study provided the analysis of the use of smart card reader (SCR) and credible elections in Nigeria 2015. The study was conducted in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State. Four objectives were set to achieve and 1 hypothesis formulated. The population for the INEC included all the 207 INEC staff in Ikere Local Government Area. The sample for the study was 180 respondents. Data was collected with the use of researcher’s constructed questionnaire. Data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics; arithmetic mean and standard. Inferential statistics; chi-square was employed to test hypothesis. Findings for the study revealed a significant Chi-square calculated (X-cal) of 2.71 and the chi-square tabulated (X-tab) of 2.69 (p=2.71>2.69). This was an indication that smart card reader has credibility on the conduct of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. The study concluded that the evolution of smart card reader technology marks the significant development of electoral systems in many counties. It was recommended that all Nigerians should accept the use smart card readers in the conduct of elections at all levels. Both INEC and Adhoc staff should be properly trained on the use of smart card readers to eliminate the challenges experienced in the 2015 general elections.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

1.0                                          INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background to the Study

Election is a process of choosing a candidate for public office. Election is a critical component of any democratic society. As such, Nigeria’s returned to democratic rule and engagement with the democratic process led to the conduct of its general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. General elections are elections conducted in the federation at large for federal and state elective positions (The Electoral Institute, 2015).

The 2015 general election appears to be the most keenly contested in the history of elections in Nigeria because it was the first time about four major opposition parties came together to form a very strong party, All Progressive Congress (APC) in order to challenge the dominance of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the polity. Indeed, according to Omotola (2013: 172), the election became the only game in town, shaping and reshaping public discourse and political actions.

During the last few years, the application of ICT has been deployed in most activities of life and has form some integral part of us. The last election which is the 2015 election was done using the aid of ICT equipment’s. The use of card readers at the 2015 general election in Nigeria has infused some level of transparency and credibility into Nigeria’s electoral process (Okonji, 2015). It was observed that when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) first announced its plan to introduce card reader machine for the March 28 and April 11 2015 general elections, many Nigerians, especially politicians, vehemently opposed to it. They felt the country has not developed to a level where such technology can be employed for elections. Besides, they felt the uses of card reader would disrupt the entire electoral processes.

The public outcry that greeted the planned introduction of card reader machines was enough to discourage INEC from introducing it. However, because of   INEC confidence in the efficacy of modern technologies in achieving quick results, coupled with its vision to transform the country’s electoral process from its old norms that was characterized by ballot box snatching and multiplicity of ballot tomb-printing, INEC went ahead and introduced the technology against all odds (Vanguard, 2015). However, many technology experts in Nigeria and outside, who monitored the elections are full of praises for INEC for insisting on the use of card reader machines, saying it is the best thing that has ever happened to the Nigerian electoral process in the area of election transparency. They have called on the electoral umpire to introduce card reader machines in subsequent elections, believing it is a sure way to achieve transparency and credibility in every election.

Prior to the 2015 general elections, a number of technologically based reforms (e.g. biometric Register of Voters, Advanced Fingerprints Identification System) were embarked upon by the new leadership (headed by Prof Attairu Jega) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the election management body empowered by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to organize, undertake and supervise all elections in Nigeria.

However, despite the confidence of INEC in the use of card reader in the 2015 general elections, the machines came with some challenges, even though the elections have been widely adjudged as being successful. For instance, during the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections across the country, the card readers malfunctioned in several polling units, a situation that caused undue delay in the accreditation process. It, however, worked perfectly in other polling units. The challenges ranged from rejection of permanent voter’s card (PVC) by the card readers, inability to capture the biometrics from finger tips, to irregular capturing and fast battery drainage. INEC officials have to abandon their polling units and took the card readers back to their office for proper configuration. In order to salvage the situation, which was almost becoming frustrating, INEC ordered the use of manual process for accreditation, But before the order could go round the states and local government areas, it was already late to conduct accreditation and actual voting in some areas, a situation that forced INEC to extend the exercise to the next day in all affected areas.

The more general use of biometric in African elections is on the rise. No fewer than 25 sub-Saharan African countries (e.g. Sierra-Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Somaliland, Mali, Togo, Ghana etc.) have already held elections employing a biometric voter register (Piccolino, 2015). The Automated Fingerprint Identification System was used in the 2011 general elections as a digital register to eliminate doubles from the list, and was not capable or verifying the identity of voters at the polling stations (Piccolino, 2015).

These technologically based reforms by INEC were further taken to another height in the 2015 general elections with the use of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and introduction of Smart Card Reader technology, a device used to scan the PVC in order to verify the identity of a voter in a polling booth. The smart card reader was one of the greatest innovations of biometric verification technology and controversial crucial aspect of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Somaliland etc had adopted the biometric verification technology.

Concerned about the massive electoral fraud witnessed in the past general elections in Nigeria, INEC deployment of the card reader in 2015 general elections was to ensure a credible, transparent, free and fair election in order to deepen Nigeria’s electoral democracy. However, the used of the electronic device in the 2015 general elections generated debate among election stakeholders before, during and after the elections.

Consequently, this research focused on the roles and challenges of the card reader in the 2015 general elections. Furthermore, the paper critically analyzes the debate and impact of the card reader on the 2015 general elections; and also attempt to look at the way forward for the card reader in future elections in Nigeria. The paper however examines other selected issues around the election. It is believed that the paper will contribute to the ongoing debate on the use of technology in the electoral process especially in the underdeveloped and developing countries of Africa.

The use of card readers at the 2015 general election in Nigeria has infused some level of transparency and credibility into Nigeria’s electoral process (Okonji, 2015). It was observed that when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) first announced its plan to introduce card reader machine for the March 28 and April 11 2015 general elections, many Nigerians, especially politicians, vehemently opposed to it. They felt the country has not developed to a level where such technology can be employed for elections. Besides, they felt the uses of card reader would disrupt the entire electoral processes.

The public outcry that greeted the planned introduction of card reader machines was enough to discourage INEC from introducing it. However, because of   INEC confidence in the efficacy of modern technologies in achieving quick results, coupled with its vision to transform the country’s electoral process from its old norms that was characterized by ballot box snatching and multiplicity of ballot tomb-printing, INEC went ahead and introduced the technology against all odds (Vanguard, 2015). However, many technology experts in Nigeria and outside, who monitored the elections are full of praises for INEC for insisting on the use of card reader machines, saying it is the best thing that has ever happened to the Nigerian electoral process in the area of election transparency.

They have called on the electoral umpire to introduce card reader machines in subsequent elections, believing it is a sure way to achieve transparency and credibility in every election.

Election is the process of choosing a candidate for public office. Election is a critical component of any democratic society. As such, Nigeria’s returned to democratic rule and engagement with the democratic process led to the conduct of its general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. General elections are elections conducted in the federation at large for federal and state elective positions (The Electoral Institute, 2015). The 2015 presidential election appears to be the most keenly contested in the history of elections in Nigeria because it was the first time about four major opposition parties came together to form a very strong party, All Progressive Congress (APC) in order to challenge the dominance of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the polity. Indeed, according to Omotola (2013), the election became the only game in town, shaping and reshaping public discourse and political actions.

Prior to the 2015 general elections, a number of technologically based reforms (e.g. biometric Register of Voters, Advanced Fingerprints Identification System) were embarked upon by the new leadership (headed by Prof Attairu Jega) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the election management body empowered by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to organize, undertake and supervise all elections in Nigeria.

However, despite the confidence of INEC in the use of card reader in the 2015 general elections, the machines came with some challenges, even though the elections have been widely adjudged as being successful. For instance, during the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections across the country, the card readers malfunctioned in several polling units, a situation that caused undue delay in the accreditation process. It, however, worked perfectly in other polling units. The challenges ranged from rejection of permanent voter’s card (PVC) by the card readers, inability to capture the biometrics from finger tips, to irregular capturing and fast battery drainage. INEC officials have to abandon their polling units and took the card readers back to their office for proper configuration. In order to salvage the situation, which was almost becoming frustrating, INEC ordered the use of manual process for accreditation, But before the order could go round the states and local government areas, it was already late to conduct accreditation and actual voting in some areas, a situation that forced INEC to extend the exercise to the next day in all affected areas.

Concerned about the massive electoral fraud witnessed in the past general elections in Nigeria, INEC deployment of the card reader in 2015 general elections was to ensure a credible, transparent, free and fair election in order to deepen Nigeria’s electoral democracy. However, the used of the electronic device in the 2015 general elections generated debate among election stakeholders before, during and after the elections.

The 2015 general election was the closest electoral contest since the country’s post-1999 transition to multi-party democracy (International Republican Institute, 2015). The election is the most politically engaged in the history of electoral democracy in Nigeria. Huge resources were used for the elections including 120 billion naira expended by INEC, 750,000 ad-hoc election staff with over 360,000 security personnel. The presidential election was contested by fourteen candidates from different political parties. However, the candidates of the PDP (Dr Goodluck Jonathan) and APC (General Muhammadu Buhari) were the major contenders in the election.

The 2015 general election was the fifth general elections since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999. Nigerians went into the general elections with renewed determination to exercise their voting rights and stood stoutly to monitor and protect their votes with anything and everything (Momodu, 2015). Though, the 2015 general election has come and gone. The elections was bedeviled with issues that almost denied Nigeria and Nigerians the opportunity of voting in their representatives in government for another four years.

These issues almost affected the integrity, quality and management of the election. Indeed, quality election management is crucial to the sustenance of democracy. This is because, if the citizenry does not believe in the fairness, accuracy, openness, and basic integrity of election process, the very basis of any democratic society might be threatened. This implies that public faith in the integrity of election system is a cornerstone of democratic government (Alvarez and Hall, 2008: 134). Therefore, a legitimate electoral process and public confidence in democratic governance depends on both the actual and perceived integrity of an election (International Foundation for Electoral Systems, 2015).

Therefore, the just concluded elections subsisted on some issues that cannot be ignored. These issues were the introduction of technology into the 2015 general elections with special focus on mart card reader; the expiration of tenure of the INEC Chairman; security threats and election postponement.

The smart card reader was the most highly contentious and the real issue in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. The smart card reader was a critical component in the 2015 general elections. It was used for the first time in Nigeria‟s electoral process and it remains one of the greatest innovative technologies in the 2015 general elections.

Past elections in Nigeria had witness the desperate bid for political power by some stakeholders with vested interests in the Nigerian electoral process. Some of these stakeholders engaged in all forms of electoral malpractices including multiple voting, impersonation, manipulation and falsification of results which had led to legal actions, electoral conflicts and violence.

Electoral malpractices make the citizens to lose confidence in the electoral process; and lack of confidence by the citizenry in the democratic process is an impediment in deepening electoral democracy because if the citizenry does not believe in the fairness, accuracy, openness, and basic integrity of the election process, the very basis of any democratic society might be threatened (Alvarez and Hall, 2008: 134).

Electoral fraud according to López-Pintor (2010: 9) has more serious political implications, in that it allows a party or candidate to take over public positions contrary to the popular will. This undermines the democratic process and usually leads to electoral violence, insecurity and political instability. The governments of Cote d‟Ivoire, Peru, and Serbia all fell in the year 2000 as a result of popular rebellions against fraudulent elections. Similarly, the so called “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in 2004 caused presidential elections to be completely re-held after extensive fraud was demonstrated (López-Pintor, 2010: 5).

In view of the negative impacts of electoral malpractices, global attention is now focusing on how to mitigate this undemocratic behaviour and improve the electoral process. One of such strategies to combat electoral malpractices is the introduction of information and communication technology into the electoral process. Though, the use of technology in elections is not an end in itself, but assists in the various aspects of electoral administration (ACE Project, n.d). It is against this background that an electronic technologically based device, the smart card reader was introduced into the Nigerian electoral process in 2015 to help improve and deepen electoral democracy.

The smart card reader is a technological device setup to authenticate and verify on election day a Permanent Voter Card (PVC) issued by INEC. The device uses a cryptographic technology that has ultra-low power consumption, with a single core frequency of 1.2GHz and an Android 4.2.2. Operating System (INEC, 2015). In other words, the INEC card reader is designed to read information contained in the embedded chip of the permanent voter’s card issued by INEC to verify the authenticity of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and also carry out a verification of the intending voter by matching the biometrics obtained from the voter on the spot with the ones stored on the PVC (Engineering Network Team, 2015).

The ability of the card reader to perform the above described functions as well as keeping a tally of the total numbers of voters accredited at the polling unit and forwarding the information to a central database server over a Global System for Mobile (GSM) network makes the card reader most welcome at this point in time in the nation’s electoral history (Engineering Network Team, 2015).

Among the fundamental basis for the deployment of the technologically-based device in the 2015 general elections by INEC was to prevent electoral fraud; to allow the electorates votes to count; to reduce litigations arising from elections; to authenticate and verify voters; to protect the integrity and credibility of the election; to audit results from polling units across the federation; and to ensure transparency and accountability. Others are to do a range of statistical analysis of the demographics of voting for the purposes of research and planning; to build public confidence and trust in the election; to reduce electoral conflicts; to ensure a free and fair election and to further deepen Nigeria‟s electoral and democratic process.

In spite of the laudable goals and objectives of the smart card reader, it generated debate among the 2015 general elections stakeholders before, during and after the polls. On the one hand, proponents of the card reader have viewed the innovation as a deliberate effort in ensuring the conduct of a free and fair election while on the other hand there have been arguments that INEC neither has the legitimate authority nor capacity to use the card reader (Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, 2015).

The proponent of the device according to Peters (2015) believed that the card reader procedure has the capacity to prevent or minimize rigging in the sense that there would not be multiple voting while the opponents believed that in the peculiar circumstances of the Nigerian situation, the card reader is designed to assist a certain political party to win the general election. Peters (2015) maintained that the major plank of their argument is that the card reader must have been programmed to assist a pre-determined winner of the election by ensuring that so many persons would discriminately be disenfranchised to deny other parties of favourable votes thereby ensuring the winning of an INEC preferred or pre-determined party. There is also the sentiment about the use of a faith based bank to transfer money for printing of permanent voters‟ card and the configuration of the card reader.

The socio-political sentiments advanced against the use of the card reader could not be established. The allegation of the card readers being designed to favour a political party turned out to be completely baseless and unfounded as we have seen before and after the elections. This unsubstantiated statement led to the invasion and destruction of the APC Data Center in Lagos and subsequent arrest of the supplier of the card readers by the Department for State Security (DSS).

The DSS subtly apologized to the APC and later released the supplier of the card readers when no evidence was found. The contention that a faith based bank (JAIZ Bank) was use for the payment of the supply of the card readers appears to me as ridiculous. Was the transaction illegal? Was the bank not a license financial institution in Nigeria? Investigations show later that another bank (First City Monument Bank) was used in the electronic payment transfer for the supply of the card readers.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The 2015 presidential election was the closest electoral contest since the country’s post-1999 transition to multi-party democracy (International Republican Institute, 2015). The election is the most politically engaged in the history of electoral democracy in Nigeria. Huge resources were used for the elections including 120 billion naira expended by INEC, 750,000 ad-hoc election staff with over 360,000 security personnel including the use of card readers to ensure credibility and transparency. The presidential election was contested by fourteen candidates from different political parties. However, the candidates of the PDP (Dr Goodluck Jonathan) and APC (General Muhammadu Buhari) were the major contenders in the election. However, the researcher is out to examine the effect of card readers on the election credibility in Nigeria.

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Updated: 10th August 2017 — 9:16 pm

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