FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, September 13, 2023
[email protected]
New Jersey, USA
WHATABOUTISM OF PDP AND VP ATIKUíS INSISTENCE ON TECHNOLOGY FOR ELECTIONS?

ew hours before the sitting of the PEPT, this author submitted that President Tinubu cannot and should not be removed in an article. The author declared that heís not a lawyer, and that he came to the conclusion based on the evidence, arguments, and more importantly, the lack of statutory and case law precedents of removal of inaugurated President. The almost 12-hour judgment was unprecedented in Nigeriaís legal history.

My staunch support for President Tinubu is based on my experiences within and outside Nigeria. As the President just mentioned in one of his comments in India at the G-20 Meeting, Nigeriaís problem is leadership. And among President Tinubu, VP Atiku and Peter Obi, my primary assessment of the best choice was a determination of the prior performance of the candidates. President Tinubu is the best among the three. VP Atiku cannot point to anything significant he has achieved while in government. His reported high-net worth is unjustifiable by the highest rank he achieved in Nigerian Custom. His privatization portfolio under President OBJ sold Nigeriaís treasures to foreign bidders with ignominy. If VP Atiku is allowed to lead the country, Nigeria will most probably die economically. Peter Obi didnít outperform many of his governorsí peers when he was in charge of Anambra State.

Two days after the PEPT ruling, VP Atiku and his lawyers are indicating that theyíre going to the Supreme Court of Nigeria (SCON). Their central argument is that INEC didnít use technology to give a real-time uploading of election results, as expected from the guidelines. But the use of technology is not mandatory from the electoral act. Hence this article basically asks the question: whataboutism of technology in democracy or elections? Whataboutism of technology in electoral data compilation?

Presumably, the earliest democracies used basic arithmetic until technology to improve the process was invented. Even with the advancement of technology and the internet, foolproofing technology that cannot be jammed, influenced, glitched or hacked, is a mirage. More so, Nigeria didnít invent this technology and we can boast of mastery of the backend operations. The United States, probably the most technologically sophisticated and leader of free democracies, uses manual counting to check disputed election results.

Technology can be tampered with. Cybersecurity is a big problem, and we saw how it affected US elections in 2016. Cambridge Analytics, a big US Consulting Business started by a former Nuclear Scientist turned Wall Street Billionaire, used powerful technology and algorithms to harvest data on Facebook to influence electorates and elections. Some people believed that Cambridge Analytics positively influenced ďBrexitĒ, 2016 US Presidential elections and possibly Kenyan Presidential election. Big-time For-Hire Hackers are around the world with expertise to disrupt the technologies handling the results.

This article contends that VP Atiku and PDP were disappointed by the abandonment of real-time technological reporting of the results. PDP and VP Atikuís insistence on technology as one of the reasons to go to the SCON, and with ingenious packaging of their reason as electionís integrity, is a farce. Considering VP Atikuís leadership on privatization and where it got Nigeria, this article submits: Beware of VP Atikuís position on issues. His leadership and promise on privatization took us nowhere. His insistence on technology for election will take us nowhere. It will mess up our maturing democracy. The Bimodal verification was a better improvement and we must carefully adopt technology. Let us remember that technology can be of dual use: good or bad. Therefore, in a competitive election for Nigeriaís President, the inordinate use of technology to win by all means, is more likely. INEC preemptively prevented the possible compromise of technology by any contestant!

Whereas this article is not about Peter Obi, the push for a 25 percent vote of FCT is an affront on collective intelligence of Nigerian electorates. What sense does it make that a minimum of 25 percent of the votes in FCT is a must for a President to be elected? We are not operating an electoral college system where the party without a majority of votes can be the winner of the Presidential election. Itís the US that uses the electoral college system to choose their President. The Electoral college was originally used because US Founding Fathers were skeptical that the masses could correctly choose the best person to lead then. How would the third candidate, Peter Obi, with less national spread become the President because he won 25 percent of FCT? Itís a wishful thinking and presumptuous assessment that the electorates would stupidly accept the idea!

Nigerian politics and politicians are litigious and according to an elder member of the Bar, electoral litigations are harvest time for lawyers. Nevertheless, the impending rush to SCON by VP Atiku with one of their major contentions being INECís refusal to use technology as promised, is ludicrous. The rush to SCON is a masqueraded anger arising from INECís forestalling a presumed cyberattack of the real-time reporting of the results of the Presidential election. This article submits that if the technology was used, the technology would have been undercut, results messed up, finalization of the process truncated, polity thrown into confusion. Thanks to INEC for going the manual and simple arithmetic way. This was how democratic voting started before technology. Manual collation and reporting of electoral votes are still being used till date when necessary. What is it about technology in elections that PDP and VP Atiku are hammering upon? INEC probably ditched their pitch to win at all costs. INEC made the correct decision not to use susceptible technology. INEC made the right call unlike the comments of PDP and LP members.

In conclusion, thereís no foolproof technology. Cybersecurity is a real problem and technology often has dual use. Simple arithmetic and manual operations are often used for elections even when re-validating. Insistence on technology by PDP questions whataboutism? Insistence on 25 percent of FCT makes us not equal to one another as citizens of the same country. Both VP Atiku and Peter Obi are encouraged to pursue their case to the Supreme Court because Lawyers will make money. However, Nigerians should try to see the reason behind their push: itís not about Nigeria or the integrity of the election; it is about the ego and ambition of VP Atiku and Peter Obi. Only one person can win the election. President Tinubu won. The leaders and citizens should work together to build a better Nigeria.

May God bless Nigeria and guide our leaders right.

Dr. Onifade is a staunch supporter of President Bola Tinubu.

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