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ASSESSMENT OF THE INTRODUCTION OF IREV PORTAL FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS RESULTS IN NIGERIA.

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ASSESSMENT OF THE INTRODUCTION OF  IREV PORTAL FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS RESULTS IN NIGERIA.
CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

Ensuring the integrity of elections and preserving it requires effective election administration by an impartial electoral management entity with the expertise to conduct elections that are both equitable and transparent. Ugoh (2022) asserts that in mature democracies, the electoral authorities are often overlooked due to their established reputation for consistently organising impartial and transparent elections. Therefore, election management organisations in developing democracies, such as Nigeria, encounter significant levels of mistrust, criticism, and scrutiny. It is noteworthy to emphasise that Nigeria has had a total of nine presidential or general elections since attaining independence, with the exception of the forthcoming 2023 general election. Since 1999, elections have shown a consistent and methodical pattern, resulting in a stable electoral process. The trustworthiness, quality, and integrity of these elections are a cause for concern among voters, political participants, and domestic and foreign observers. Since the year 2003, general elections have been marked by widespread discontent among political candidates, voters, and observers. Elections have been characterised by many forms of electoral misconduct, including the theft of ballot boxes, the practise of vote buying, the implementation of secret voting, the use of violence, the dissemination of fraudulent results, and instances of electoral violence, among others. These phenomena were evident in the sequence of legal proceedings that followed the release of election results and the proclamation of winners, the invalidation of results, and the subsequent occurrence of violence associated with the electoral process (Amao and Ambali, 2022). As a result, numerous scholars have provided extensive analysis regarding the necessity of reforming the Electoral Act. This analysis focuses on evaluating the relationship between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the electoral regulatory body and the overall credibility of Nigeria's electoral process (Idam & Emeh, 2022; Munya, 2019; Ogundiran, 2020). The primary area of agreement is in the essential and delicate function that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) assumes in strengthening an emerging democracy. The result of an election is influenced by the actions and inactions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) (Michal, Christophe, & Josip, 2021). In response to a significant number of appeals for the reform of the electoral process, former President Muhammadu Buhari granted his approval to the Electoral Bill 2022 on the 25th of February, 2022. This act of assent resulted in the repeal of the 2010 Electoral Act and the establishment of a new Electoral Act. The recently enacted legislation establishes a legislative structure that gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the authority to regulate the method of voting and transmission of election results. Additionally, it enables the INEC to reassess the declaration of election results that were made under coercive circumstances (PLAC, 2022). The newly enacted legislation specifically authorises the use of technology in electoral processes. It also introduces a revised definition of over-voting and imposes an obligation on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to undertake "reasonable measures" to provide assistance for individuals with disabilities (PWDs) throughout the voting process. The newly enacted legislation also modifies the established schedules for the organisation of elections and establishes novel time periods for political parties to meet different obligations and engage in activities related to the nomination of candidates for electoral contests. It is anticipated that the implementation of the new legislation would enhance the level of civic engagement in the election procedures. The implementation of the new Electoral Act has raised significant concerns regarding the dependability and credibility of the BVAS system, which utilises voters' fingerprints and facial recognition for identification and accreditation purposes prior to voting. Additionally, the INEC Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV), an online platform where results from polling units are directly uploaded, transmitted, and made accessible to the public, has also become a subject of apprehension. In accordance with a report published by The Guardian Newspaper in November 2020, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is actively pursuing the implementation of twin technology as a means to address ten prevalent vulnerabilities in Nigeria's election result management process. These vulnerabilities include the falsification of votes at polling units, the falsification of the number of accredited voters, the collation of false results, the mutilation of results and computational errors, the swapping and forging of results sheets, the snatching and destruction of results sheets, the involuntary obtaining of declaration and return, the premature declaration and return while result collation is still ongoing, and inadequate record-keeping practises. Based on the recent achievements observed in the Edo, Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun gubernatorial elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirms that the implementation of the Biometric Voter Authentication System (BVAS) and the Integrated Results Viewing System (IReV) will significantly augment the transparency of electoral outcomes and foster public confidence in the forthcoming general election. Based on the preceding discussion, it is crucial to evaluate the public sentiments and voting patterns about the merit and ethicality of the new Electoral Act, specifically focusing on the utilisation of BVAS and IReV. Hence, it is against these backdrops this study is assess the introduction of IREV portal for the management of 2023 general elections results in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the problem

In light of Nigeria's aspirations for a more transparent electoral process in the next 2023 general election, the responsibility of incorporating technology into the electioneering process has been delegated to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the Electoral Act of 2022. While the act of voting will continue to include manual processes such as casting ballots and using open secret voting methods, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has incorporated various technology at particular points of the electoral process. These technologies were implemented throughout the pre-election phase, election phase, and post-election phase. Each step of the process will include the use of one of the four interdependent technologies: the INEC Voters Enrolment Device (IVED), the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), and the INEC Result Viewing (IReV). During the pre-election phase, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) employs the INEC Voters Enrolment Device (IVED), an android device designed for the purpose of conducting continuous voters' registration (Mahmood, 2021). Additionally, the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) is utilised to eliminate instances of duplicate and fraudulent voter registrations (Gana, N., 2022). In the electoral phase, the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) has been used to facilitate the process of accrediting voters before to casting their ballots and transmitting the results after collation at the polling station (Mahmood, 2022). In the post-election phase, an important tool is the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) site. This online site serves as a public platform for the real-time observation of results that have been uploaded from the various polling units (Mahmood, 2022). The rationale for advocating for the incorporation of technology in the election process mostly stems from the desire to enhance transparency. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that these technologies are not without their drawbacks. The absence of adequate risk assessment studies and mitigation measures for these technologies has the potential to significantly impact the overarching purpose of the 2023 general election process.According to Jafaru (2022), there exists a significant likelihood that cyber-attacks will specifically target the BVAS and IReV systems. The primary aim of a cyber-attack against the BVAS is to impede the transmission of the snapped results sheet to the INEC Server. A potential cyber-attack on the IReV portal might include the manipulation of results shown on the site or the intentional disruption of public access to the IReV Portal. Therefore, the study assess the introduction of IREV portal for the management of 2023 general elections results in Nigeria.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the introduction of  IREV portal for the management of 2023 general elections results in Nigeria. The specific objectives is as follows

i.                    Examine the reason for the introduction of the IREV result portal in the 2023 elections in Nigeria .

ii.                  Examine whether the use of IReV portal was efficient in the transmission of election results in Nigeria.

iii.                Find out the challenges accompanied with the use of IREV in transmitting election result in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study

i.          What is the reason for the introduction of the IREV result portal in the 2023 elections in Nigeria?

ii.        Was the use of IReV portal efficient in the transmission of election results in Nigeria?

iii.      What are the challenges accompanied with the use of IREV in transmitting election result in Nigeria?

1.5       Significance of the study

The outcome of this study will educate the general public on the benefits and lapses in the use of  IREV   and also how to improve on its functions for a better effectiveness in other for a truly free and fair elections in Nigeria.

This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.

1.6       Scope of the study

The study focuses on investigating the introduction of IREV portal for the management of 2023 general elections results in Nigeria. Hence, the study will examine the reason for the introduction of the IREV result portal in the 2023 elections in Nigeria, examine whether the use of IReV portal was efficient in the transmission of election results in Nigeria and find out the challenges accompanied with the use of IREV in transmitting election result in Nigeria. The study is delimited to Imo State.

1.7       Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8       Definition of terms

IREV portal: allows voters and other interested parties to monitor the electoral process and view the results of ongoing elections in real-time

Election: a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position.


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