The much-awaited Anambra State gubernatorial election held on 6th November 2021 has come and gone. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and electoral observers have done their best. The election was relatively peaceful and calm compared to the heightened tension, disorder, and killings that preceded it.
For many reasons, the Anambra people should celebrate it because, before the date of the election, the harbingers of discord and prophets of doom had predicted that the election would not be held, which created fear, impassivity, and dispassion among the Anambra people in particular, and the Igbo people in general.
However, the election would not be said to be hitch-free. The poor performance of the Biometric Voter’s Accreditation System (BVAS) contributed majorly to the alleged disenfranchisement of some of the eligible voters – an action that caused disaffection among the voters that were denied the opportunity to vote.
BVAS was programmed to reconfirm voters’ facial identities. The INEC officer at a polling booth must conduct the exercise before he would issue a voter with a valid voting slip for him to vote for a party of his choice. At the first look at the BVAS, one would rush to commend the INEC for its ingenuity. Nevertheless, the shortcomings of the device were too serious to be ignored.
On the day of the Anambra gubernatorial election, basklifenews discovered that in many polling booths the BVAS malfunctioned. Where it functioned, it would take a longer time to recognize and capture the face of the voters. For example, it took more than 13 attempts before the reporter of basklifenews was captured at his polling booth. The annoying aspect of it was the different facial postures that would be demanded from voters before the BVAS would recognize the voters. Due to the poor performance of BVAS, some polling booths could not capture many voters that wanted to exercise their civic responsibilities and rights. Thus, it was not necessarily voters’ apathy that led to the low number of voters in the election result sheets but mainly the malfunctioning of the BVAS.
We should remember that on 8th October 2021, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, told the political parties during a meeting that a total number of 2,525,471 voters were allegedly registered for November 6 Anambra State gubernatorial election. In his words, “in Anambra State, a total of 138,802 citizens completed the registration, including applications for transfer and requests for replacement of lost, damaged or defaced PVCs as required by law.”
If the total number of registered voters in the 2021 Anambra gubernatorial election were 2,525,471, and the total number of votes cast was 249,631, it would be said that 2,275,840 voters did not cast votes – less than 10% of the total registered voters.
In the 2017 Anambra gubernatorial election, the registered voters were 2,064,134, while the total votes cast were 448,771 – that is, less than 21.74% of voters that voted. In essence, 1,615,363 voters did not vote.
Basklifenews discovers that while the number of registered voters increased from 2,064,134 in 2017 to 2,525,471 in 2021 (over 461,337 voters), that number of votes cast decreased drastically due to BVAS.
INEC officials should do their best to improve on the inadequacies of BVAS to avoid further voters’ disenfranchisement and apathy.
Picture source: TheCable.ng