Returning to Nigeria after a long sick leave in London last year, President Muhammadu Buhari was greeted with a bizarre conspiracy theory. He had died and been replaced by “Jubril from Sudan”, a body double who had undergone extensive plastic surgery, said the Biafran secessionist leader Nnamdi Kanu. In October, just before campaigning began for February’s presidential election, the rumour went viral. For weeks now, prospective voters have been squinting at before-and-after pictures of the president’s hands and ears, trying to spot the difference – so much so that the normally-tightlipped Buhari has felt the need to deny the rumours. “It’s the real me, I assure you,” he told an audience in Poland on Sunday, chuckling.
Articles about voting issues in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As Nigeria heads toward general elections in February, it’s in a race to stamp out the bane of the voting system in Africa’s biggest democracy: rigging. Ballot snatching and buying, underage and multiple voting, falsifying results and the suppression of turnout in opposition areas are among the abuses the National Assembly is trying to tackle with new legislation. The bill, passed last month, emerged from talks among the presidency, lawmakers and civic groups. As it awaits President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature, time is running out. “We put a lot of work into the bill and we believe a lot of the provisions are positive,” said Clement Nwankwo, the chairman of Situation Room, a coalition of 71 civic organizations monitoring the election process. “If it’s not signed now, there’ll really be worries.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was warned yesterday that the credibility of its elections in 2019 may be threatened by electronic manipulation. It was further told that the manipulation was being planned by some persons within its ranks. The alarm was raised by the convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, at a press briefing in Abuja. Reliable sources in INEC revealed that the commission’s e-collation portal has been tampered with, Adeyanju said, warning that this could lead to the creation of virtual polling units. According to him, while e-collation remains the most potent way to end vote rigging, a faulty system means anyone could enter results from any location at anytime or date because the portal allegedly no longer shows location, time and date of collation.
Nigerian opposition parties cried foul late Thursday as the country’s electoral commission failed to publish official results for runoff governorship elections in the southwestern Osun state. The vote is the final major test before Nigerians elect a new president, parliament, governors, and state legislatures in February and March next year. Forty-eight candidates from different political parties contested the election last Saturday. But the leading candidates were Gboyega Oyetola from President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ademola Adeleke of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Nigeria’s two main political parties are asking election hopefuls to pay huge fees for the chance to stand at next year’s general election, in a move criticised as favouring the rich and well-connected. At the last nationwide vote in 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of then-president Goodluck Jonathan charged 22 million naira per nomination form. The All Progressives Congress (APC) of the eventual winner Muhammadu Buhari asked for 27.5 million naira just to stand in the party’s presidential primary. Now, as both parties prepare for polling in February next year, the APC wants an eye-watering 45 million naira ($125 500) per presidential primary candidate, according to newspaper adverts on Wednesday.
In the run up to the 2015 presidential election, a public relations firm named Cambridge Analytica attempted to influence Nigerian voters by orchestrating a smear campaign against eventual winner, Muhammadu Buhari.
When Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to influence Nigeria’s elections were made public earlier this year, many were shocked as to the length the firm (formerly SCL Elections) went to ensure the re-election victory of then-president, Goodluck Jonathan. On the prompting of an unnamed Nigerian billionaire, the data mining firm hacked Facebook to harvest the profile of millions of users and target what was determined to be their worst fears. In a video the firm produced, people were filmed being dismembered, having their throats cut and bled to death, and also burned to death in a bid to portray Muslims as violent and Buhari as the man that will impose Sharia Law that’ll make that sort of violence commonplace in the country.
The game has changed. The days are gone where rampant and widespread ballot-box snatching, political thuggery, and falsification of figures at collation centres define election rigging in Nigeria.Today, vote-buying is the name of the game and just as an election observer and monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has described, vote-buying is the new way of election rigging by politicians in the country. Projector Director of Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said in Osogbo yesterday at a Media Round Table Discussion tagged ‘Watching The Vote’ ahead of the September 22 governorship election in Osun State.Mbamalu said vote-buying was becoming a threat to Nigerian electoral process, adding that all hands must be on deck to put an end to the menace. “Nowadays, the more money you give, the more votes you get and this is becoming a problem and a challenge to our electoral process.”
“Are we adequately equipped for the operation of the electronic voting? Countries which have operated this system for decades still grapple with it despite the advanced state of their technological development. It must be appreciated that the problems bedevilling elections in Nigeria do not entirely relate to the accuracy of the process of voting and collation of votes. It is more of an attitudinal problem on the part of the electorates and the Politicians who will stop at nothing to attain political power”. On the 31st of May 2018, the House of Representatives rejected moves for the adoption of electronic voting during the upcoming 2019 general elections. The House took the decision whilst considering the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the long title of which is, “A bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act, No. 6, 2010 to further improve the electoral process and for related matters.”
Globally, 26 countries conduct elections with one form of electronic voting or the other with some even allowing internet ballots for general elections. In 2014, Namibia joined the list becoming the first African country to conduct an e-voting election. Nigeria has made moves too. In 2017, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), unveiled a solar-powered electronic voting machine that was reportedly made in Nigeria. Ever since this announcement, Nigerians have clamoured for electronic voting in the 2019 general elections but this may be a bad idea. Kaduna State recently made history when it pulled off Nigeria’s first electronic voting in its local government elections. Ironically, howbeit successful, Kaduna illustrates practical reasons Nigeria is not ready for e-voting in 2019.
It is mid-afternoon on the Friday before the local government elections in Kaduna State. Dr. (Mrs.) Saratu Binta Dikko-Audu, chairman of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KAD-SIECOM), has been on her feet for the most part of the day moving from one end of the commission’s premises to the other. The compound itself is buzzing with activities like a bee hive, marking a culmination of events that have taken place over the past 6 months. The Kaduna State local government elections were earlier slated for the 30th of December 2017 and subsequently cancelled. KAD-SIECOM suspended the elections because the State House of Assembly had not passed the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission Bill No. 10 of 2012 into law.