Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that every BVAS machine deployed across the 774 local government had been tested, adding that the functionality of the machines was impressive.
The INEC Chairman who disclosed this while speaking at the Chatham House, London on Tuesday, also said the commission will conduct mock accreditation nationwide ahead of the 2023 general elections.
He expressed confidence that the election will hold as planned despite security challenges.
According to Yakubu, the mock accreditation would be carried out across selected polling units to ascertain the integrity of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, before the main elections begin in February.
He also stated that back up machines have been readily provided in case of system glitches.
He added that with all preparations on ground, the commission is really “comfortable and happy.”
Yakubu said, “We have the machines for the 2023 elections but we didn’t want to take chances. Each and every machine has been tested and confirmed functional. For the last two weeks our officials were in the 36 states of the federation testing these machines, and the functionality is simply encouraging.
“The second thing we’re going to do, and pretty soon, is to conduct mock accreditation exercise nationwide ahead of the elections. We won’t wait until the main elections come, we will test the integrity of these machines with real life voters in selected polling units across the country.
“We did so in Ekiti and Osun, it was fantastic and we’re going to do so nationwide. Increasingly our people are becoming more excited about the deployment of this technology and we’re really happy.
“Also in terms of the numbers of these BVAS machines, we always make provision in case of malfunction or glitches. There is always a back up. We have IReV technical support that will fix the machines in the unlikely event of any glitches.
“However, where it fails to function completely in a polling unit, from previous experience there were isolated polling units, the law has a remedy that the commission should re-mobilise and re-conduct elections in the affected polling units within 24 hours, so we are really, really comfortable where we are.”
Yakubu said he is satisfied with the preparations done so far ahead of the elections.
“We have promised Nigerians and friends of Nigerians that the 2023 general election will be free, free and credible and we have left no stone unturned in preparing for it.
“But like with all elections, especially those requiring the extensive national deployment like we do in Nigeria, it will naturally come with challenges.
“We have worked closely with stakeholders and development partners to confront these challenges and we are satisfied with our preparations so far.”
Lamenting the continuous attacks on its facilities nationwide, the INEC Chairman said despite the attacks, elections would hold.
He said, “In four years, 50 facilities attacked in various parts of the country. The implication of the attacks is that we have to rebuild facilities and replace materials. The commission and security agencies have increased their presence in some of these locations. The last attack happened on Sunday last week but because of the cooperation between the military and the electoral commission, we were able to respond and the damage was limited to just a section of the building in a local government office.
“The commission has repeatedly called for concerted efforts to control and check these attacks and in December last year, the National Assembly held a public hearing on these attacks and we hope that authorities have these attacks under control and the response by the security agencies is more coordinated.
“But inspite of these attacks, we will rebuild facilities and replace damaged and lost items, the elections will hold.”