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The recent expose by Mr. Donald Duke, the former Governor of Cross River State on Election rigging in Nigeria is very informative and we as a nation should appreciate this backside details that have been provided in other to properly guard against the highlighted anomalies inherent in our electoral process.

Quite rightly too, some commentaries have revealed the absence of details relating to the roles of the security agencies from the military and police force as well as state intelligence community and their complicity in the overall opprobrium that is our elections.

I am also fascinated by the Technology paradigm suggested by Mr. Donald Duke as a panacea to election rigging which if duly applied will truly be effective in a whole new way to make elections credible in Nigeria. After all most of these reality-shows both locally and internationally such as Big Brother, Pop Idols, Project Fame etc are run using this method he has suggested in the main, so it should deliver. However it remains to be seen how this can be done now for 2011.

My take on the Technology is that we can even work this through with scratch card for every registered voter with their names on it with access code for the login and voting using assigned numbers for parties/candidates. This will be voice prompted voting { Voting for the President press 1 and then the assigned number for the Party/Candidate; Voting for the Governor press 2 and then the assigned number for the party/candidate; Voting for the Senator press 3 and then the assigned number for the party/candidate; voting for the House of Representative press 4 and then the assigned number for the party/candidate; and finally voting for the House of Assembly press 5 and then the assigned number for the party/candidate. Once a scratch card is used it is unable to gain access to the system anymore.

All of this voting can be structured on a State by State basis with access from all the mobile phone operators as is the case with these reality shows. This system can then be audited and checked by qualified firms of auditors and actuaries with the requisite skill sets for monitoring such systems. This option is truly above board if it will be accepted by the generality of Nigerians. The scratch cards are generated from the voters register as access code assigned to registered voters to activate their voting using their mobile phones. The foregoing details are on the further development of the technology suggested by Mr Donald Duke. The only down side to this is that we cannot declare results at polling units/booths which is the provision of the law and the issue of acceptability of this method for 2011.

In this method you will need a credible voters register as well as is required for all credible elections. INEC has indicated that they will be relying on the voter register put together by Prof. M. Iwu. This register should be published now using all media available. The easiest way to begin will be the website of INEC where NGO, CBO, Party representatives, Community leaders and other interest groups can access it all the way to the voting units/booths. The register should not be a secret document anymore. Apart from physical updating of this register at the various designated locations, INEC can use its online portal for updating services and queries too, using existing IT packages to deliver on eliminating dead and relocated voters and the adding of new qualified voters to the register. With this method the exercise of updating of the voters register will not be as difficult as envisaged by Mr Donald Duke and so elections can still hold in January if that is what the law provides.

In an event that the above spelt out process is not accepted and implemented, I have suggested in an article recently title 'Free and Fair Elections In Nigeria is Possible …..Once Again' a manual system that will meet the requirement of the law for the declaration of result at polling booths at the end of election. This said system and mechanism depending on a credible voters register will need a different type of temporary source of personnel to man elections. Suggested sources would be the Nigerian Bar Association to supply Lawyer, Nigerian Medical Association to supply Doctors, Nigeria Society of Engineers to supply Engineers, Christian Association of Nigeria to supply Pastor/Clergymen, The Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to supply Imams, CBOs, NGOs, and such bodies. These Nigerians with these background and pedigree will provide better commitment to the voting process than those supplied by the party/Governor as revealed by Mr Duke.

The technology suggested in this manual system is just like the one used for objective assessment for primary school leaving certificate. The ballot papers are designed in 5 columns with a row each for party/candidate with numbers 1,2,3 ….. The name of the voter is printed on the ballot paper with serial numbers and barcode. An area for thumb printing is provided and voters shade in front of the rows of designated party/candidate under the column for President, Governor, Senate, Representatives, and State Assembly to vote for their party/candidate of choice.

The ballot paper should also be computer readable for speed in double checking the manual counting of the ballots. These election materials are to be distributed using the banking system across the nation. In this sense voting materials are all at polling booths before 9am on voting day. With this method voting should end by 2.30pm, with counting ending at 4pm in the declaration of results. All ballot materials including signed-off voters register, used and unused ballot papers are returned to the bank for onward transfer to a repository in the State for Election Dispute resolution. The printing of the ballot papers can be handled by the Nigerian Mint and Security Printing Company, circulated by the banking sector, manned by credible professional bodies as Electoral Officials to counter the current process that empowers the Governors to rig elections.

Using the Scratch Card technology mentioned above, the returning officer can transmit their results in a predetermined format to INEC data base for coalition and final realise.

The details espouse above can be done within the time frame available to Prof. Attahiru Jega. Efforts should be brought to bear on him to deliver a free and fair election in 2011. It is his decision to use any of means possible to execute a clearly identified process to deliver free and fair election. Prof. M Iwu made his decisions and he is going down in history for the outcome of his decision. The excuse that Iwu was helpless and not in a position to do better than he did is to say that Mr. Donald Duke as Chief Executive of Cross River State was helpless too. Every Leader is responsible for the outcome of the various units under their purview. The nation can ill afford the excuses given for failures going forward. We should hold our leaders accountable and this should include Prof A. Jega. There is no need to provide him with excuses so early in the day. A free and fair election is truly possible.

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