With the 2019 general elections very close, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has unveiled a special application that will allow Nigerians observe the elections and report live from their polling units.
According to INEC, the app would check vote buying and can be freely downloaded from the commission’s website or Google Play Store. Interestingly, it possesses geo-referencing features that enable INEC’s officials to identify wherever challenges may arise and alerting security agencies if necessary.
While declaring open a 3-day workshop in Abuja on electoral training for security personnel, the electoral body’s national commissioner, Mustapha Leeky, disclosed that the app was developed to tackle the electoral malpractice of vote-buying which was prevalent in the recent governorship elections in some states.
Leeky, who is also the chairman, Board of The Electoral Institute (TEI), added that the workshop was inspired by the need to ensure the 2019 election is conducted in a hitch-free manner.
He said, “We have deployed something that most of you media men are paying little regards to; and that is the fact, as at today, if you go to INEC website or Google Play Store, you can download an INEC i-reporter which is something that INEC has spent a lot of money in developing.
It allows every Nigerian to be an observer and a reporter of events as it happens. This, you can download freely, and have it on your smartphones. So, you can take pictures, you can also take a short video and send it to us.
It is geo-reference, so we know exactly where that issue is taking place and we can easily draw the attention of police or other security agencies to make sure that the matter is actually addressed.”
The INEC commissioner said the commission had introduced a number of measures to ensure that vote buying does not interfere with the electoral process in 2019.
He said, “Our take on vote buying has been well articulated at various fora like this; we abhor it, we think it is uncalled for, you do not need to sell your vote and you do not need to buy votes. In INEC as an institution, we don’t buy votes and we don’t sell votes, we just count the votes.
So we expect people to cast their votes freely, we have deployed a number of measures to ensure that vote buying does not interfere with our election. We have reconfigured the way our polling units and the ballot boxes are placed so that people cannot expose their votes, so that people can go and collect money afterwards.
We have also banned the use of smartphones in the polling booth so that you don’t take a picture and show to anyone.”
To corroborate Leeky’s statement, the Acting Director of TEI,
Umar Idris, said the training was meant to ensure adequate preparations for security personnel, especially on the need to stay neutral during the 2019 polls.