Mr Babatunde Fashola, Governor of Lagos State has again advocated the use of Electronic Voting System for the conduct of elections in the Nigeria.
[su_quote cite=”Babatunde Fashola, Governor of Lagos State”]We spent about N86 billion in the last elections. So even if we want to buy two machines for each polling unit it will cost about N12 billion and we will have these machines for the next 16 years. We are not going to buy them in the next four years. [/su_quote]
According to the Governor, e-voting system, if adopted, would save Nigerians the stress experienced every four years in the voting process and also save the nation a huge cost.
While fielding questions from newsmen after a presentation session and a mock voting process to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Electronic Voting Machine by an Indian firm recently in Lagos, noted that the use of the process would encourage more participation by Nigerians who ordinarily were apathetic about voting due to the rigours involved.
Fashola, who invited the Indian company, Bharat Electronic Limited, explained that he decided to invite them to Nigeria after he visited the Electoral Commission of India where the system has been successfully used over the years adding that if the Commission could conduct elections successfully for over 800 million Indian voters with the use of the machine, it was possible that the present electoral problems of Nigeria with just 170 million population, would be solved.
He further explained that “I went to India to participate in an Urban Development Conference and it coincided with the period we were having some challenges with the distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards in Lagos. So I took off time to visit the Electoral Commission of India just to see how it works for them because I felt that if they were having it easy with a population thrice as large as ours, then we need to learn from them.”
According to him, the result of that visit was that be became convinced that Nigeria’s problem could be solved adding that if the Election Commission of India could register and conduct voting for 800 million people, their Nigerian counterpart could learn from them and make voting easier for Nigerians.
“I started working on how to bring the company that manufactures the machines here, getting visas from the High Commission for them to come here. Now they are here to show Nigerians that it is not rocket science. It is now left for us to find the will to do things better. I even believe these machines could be made here if we put our scientists to task to solve our problems”, the Governor said.
He however said the decision to use or not to use the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the next elections was for Nigerians to decide but added, “It makes sense because if we are going digital in all other things and processes, cameras and flashes for photography, it makes our life better; so why are we afraid to use the EVM? Almost everything we do now is electronic so why should the issue of use of EVM be a point of discussion. The fact is that automation improves efficiency.”
The Governor said that his purpose of bringing the firm here was to show Nigerians how simple the EVM is to use. “The truth is that when I saw this thing, it looked so simple and it made sense. Before, I used to think it was such a complex thing. People are sometimes afraid of what they do not understand. So I said maybe some people who resist this thing resist it because it is something they can’t visually connect,” he said.
Urging the Nigerian media to help in explaining the working of the EVM to Nigerians, the Governor further explained that “if you do not understand something sometimes you are reluctant and you are ready to stay where you are. So I thought the only way to stir the debate was to bring the people here and let Nigerians see and understand that this is not complicated, it is simple and cheap.”
Other benefits of the machine, the Governor said, include that they last 16 years and so the country does not need to buy them every four years adding that “from what the electoral commission told me, each machine is about N50,000; so if we want to do 120,000 polling units, which is what we have in the country, we need about N6 billion. That is a lot of savings.”
“We spent about N86 billion in the last elections. So even if we want to buy two machines for each polling unit it will cost about N12 billion and we will have these machines for the next 16 years. We are not going to buy them in the next four years.
So this is what I thought; put this thing in the open and let people understand so we can start a real discussion on it,” he said.