‘Our allegiance is to Nigerians’ — INEC chair dismisses claims of ‘being close to APC’

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Mahmood Yakubu, the chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the claim that he is close to the government led by the All Progressives Congress (APC), is false.

 

Speaking in an interview with BBC Africa, Yakubu said the commission is committed to citizens of Nigeria and not any political party.

 

“The claim that I’m close to the APC-led government is an allegation. People always say so of all the electoral commissions, including electoral commissions in Nigeria and other countries as well,” he said.

 

“But look at the kind of elections that we have been conducting of late. Different political parties have won different elections and citizens believe that the votes are counting and they are confident in the process.

 

 “So, my assurance to the citizens is that we’ll continue to do what is necessary to ensure that we protect the integrity of the process. Our allegiance is to the people of Nigeria and not to any political party.”

 

Addressing fears over possible challenges with transmitting votes electronically, the INEC chairperson said the commission has proven its ability to do so in previous elections such as the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections.

 

“Some of them may be small elections in the Nigerian context. But the state with the least number of registered voters in places where we transmitted results is Ekiti, and Ekiti has more registered voters than the Gambia and Cape Verde put together,” he said.

 

 “We are happy with the pilot we have conducted and we are reasonably confident in the strength of the processes.”

 

He added that INEC is working with telecommunication companies to address the issue of network blindspots which may hinder result transmission.

 

“The machine on election day does not rely on internet to accredit voters. It works offline. It only [needs] network when it comes to transmission of results,” he said.

 

“But if there’s no network in the immediate vicinity, the scanned image of the polling unit level result which is taken using the BVAS will be transmitted as soon as the staff move from the polling unit to the collation centres.

 

 “We have been working with major telecom companies in Nigeria and we are satisfied that the number of blindspots can be addressed in the country. The number of blindspots where you have no network is really small.”

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