Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said that the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS machines, would be the ultimate game changer in the forthcoming elections.
INEC National Commissioner and Head Voter Education, Festus Okoye, who stated this Saturday in Abia while addressing newsmen after monitoring the mock accreditation exercise in select polling units in the state, expressed satisfaction over the performance of the machines.
He said that the initial hitches with the machine had been rectified, assuring that they have proved effective and efficient.
“We tested the BVAS and we are confident we have gotten it right. They performed optimally, and we are impressed.”
Okoye also said that the robustness of the communication network coverage was tested during the mock accreditation, and found very effective.
He said that various network services for various locations were verified, expressing confidence that there would be no technical hitches in the upcoming elections.
Okoye, however, urged voters and political parties to be vigilant and ensure their votes were protected.
“Technology will play a dominant role in this election but vigilance is also key,” he said, advising political parties to ensure that they send their agents to all the polling units.
He warned those without PVC not to come near the polling units as they risk arrest.
Okoye further said that BVAS machines, had been up-graded to capture and easily accredit ladies with ‘heavy make-up.’
He explained that the essence of the mock accreditation was to ascertain the effectiveness of the BVAS machines ahead of the polls.
“We did what we call upgrade to BVAS to determine the level of its sensitivity to be sure that it captures young people, middle aged people and also the elderly.
“We want to be sure that even if ladies do ‘heavy make-up,’ it can capture their configuration. We want to be sure that the upgrade we have done is top-notch, and that the BVAS performs optimally on the election day.”
On the process of accreditation, Okoye said: “You use either your finger print or facial capture but if both fail, what that means is that you engaged in identify theft. And we won’t allow you to vote and if you make trouble you will be arrested.”
Okoye further said that the mock accreditation was to educate voters on the functionality of BVAS, and to ensure there were no hitches during the main elections.
He equally said the essence of the exercise was to prove to voters that PVCs do not expire contrary to rumours that those PVCs issued in 2011 had expired.
“PVCs issued by INEC do not expire because the data of voters do not reside with PVCs but with BVAS.”
On the alleged buying of PVCs by some politicians, Okoye said it would not be useful as only voters accredited by BVAS would be allowed to vote, adding that the BVAS cannot accredit any wrong possessor of PVC.
He encouraged students Union Government of the university to mobilise students to collect their PVCs before Sunday’s deadline.
In the areas monitored by our Correspondent including Abia State University (ABSU) and Ndundu polling units all in Uturu, BVAS machines were found to be working efficiently.
Some of the INEC staff and voters who showed up for the exercise commended the speed of the machine, saying it takes average of two minutes to accredit a voter.
One of the observers, Comrade Kingsley Ekejiuba of the National Voters’ Drive Coalition, expressed delight over the success of the exercise, and commended INEC for the introduction of technology into the electoral system.
He, however, expressed concern over the low turnout of voters in the areas visited, but hoped it would improve during the actual elections.
Ekejiuba who is also the Coordinator of Progressive Abia Youths vowed that youth would ensure that the forthcoming elections would not be business as usual but transparent and credible.