By Wahab Akinlade
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State says there is no single hitch in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) mock accreditation conducted in 12 Polling Units across six Local Government Areas on Saturday.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, disclosed this to journalists after monitoring six out of the 12 selected polling units in the state’s three senatorial districts.
After monitoring the exercise in selected polling units in Surulere, Somolu and Ikeja, Mr Agbaje said that the functionality of BVAS in accrediting intending voters was another test that INEC was ready for the forthcoming elections.
Agbaje said: “We have been to six stations, two each in Surulere, Somolu and Ikeja LGAs, so far the machines are working effectively, and there is no challenge or problem, and people have confirmed this.
“The essence of this is to show our people that BVAS will work. If politicians allow us to do our work, we will work effectively. We don’t want politicians to compromise our staff by bypassing BVAS.
“So far, we have not seen any problem if the finger fails. The face works well for accreditation of all that turned out.
“What we need to know is that these machines can effectively accredit our voters and that has been tested in all the six stations we have visited, and I am more than satisfy that INEC is ready to go,” the commissioner said.
According to him, within one or two minutes, voters who turned out got accredited through BVAS.
Agbaje, who noted that it would be difficult for the BVAS to be faulty because they were all new, said that the commission had backups to arrest any unforeseen circumstances.
He urged political gladiators to refrain from conspiring with any INEC staff to bypass the workings of BVAS and vote illegally, saying BVAS work was basically to accredit voters before voters would be eligible to vote on election day.
“BVAS is to improve people’s confidence in what INEC is doing because this is just like a game changer.
“If compromised and there is overvoting in any polling unit, the whole vote in such a unit will be cancelled.
“So, all of them must work together with INEC to be honest and to be sincere. If we are honest and sincere with ourselves, the system will give us good results,” he added.
Explaining BVAS bypass, Agbaje said that some politicians could connive with INEC staff to smuggle printed ballots into the box without passing through accreditation, saying results in those places would be cancelled if noticed through overvoting.
He said that INEC would also put its house in order and would not send to the field any staff that could embarrass the commission, ‘saying anyone caught conniving with politicians to bypass BVAS will face the consequences.”
Assessing the process, Mr Afeez Sulaiman, a registered voter at Polling Unit 035, Ward 2, located at Enitan Primary School, Aguda, said, “this process is very fast, it took me about two minutes to get accredited when I presented my card,”
Mrs Chinyere Joseph, a voter at Polling Unit 015, Ward 8, Igbobi-Fadeyi, Somolu, who described the process as fast and very good, said it took her only a short time to get accredited.
The PDP Candidate for Somolu Federal Constituency, Mr Oluwaseyi Olowu, popularly known as Chicago, who applauded INEC for the ‘perfect and seamless’ voter accreditation, urged the commission to sustain the success on election day.
However, a PDP Chieftain in Somolu, Mr Kazeem Jolaosho, who commended INEC for the mock, noted that the machines failed in finger accreditation for some voters, but the facial accreditation worked perfectly.
“The finger accreditation through BVAS is not without hitches like the facial accreditation. We want INEC to work on this,* Jolaosho said.
An observer from the Guild of Public Affairs Analysts of Nigeria in Ikeja, Mr Stephen Aya, commended INEC’s efforts at making elections more credible and urged politicians to cooperate with INEC.
The INEC’s monitoring team led by Agbaje visited Polling Unit 035, Ward 2, located at Enitan Primary School, Aguda and Polling Unit 019, Ward 7, located at Rabiatu Thompson Crescent Primary School, Shitta/Ogunlana in the Surulere Local Government Area.
The team also monitored the exercise at Polling Unit 040, Ward 5, located at Omo Alade Alafia Street., Mafowoku and Polling Unit 015, Ward 8, located at Ogatimirin Street., Igbobi-Fadeyi in Somolu LGA.
Agbaje also led his team to Polling Unit 010, Ward 1, located at the front of No.5, Abeokuta Str, Anifowose/Ikeja and Polling Unit 017, Ward 10, located at the Junction of Irewole/Joseph Str, Wasimi/Opebi/Allen in Ikeja LGA.
The mock accreditation exercise also occurred in Ikorodu, Eti-Osa and Agege LGAs.
INEC embarked on a mock accreditation exercise of voters to test the functionality of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) ahead of the 2023 General Election in the state.
BVAS was introduced by INEC for the accreditation of voters through biometrics capturing, uploading polling results and other functions.