The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received a set of advanced electoral management tools from the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN). The tools, designed to enhance Nigeria’s electoral system, were handed over by the Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), a partner of EU-SDGN.
The technology suite was presented to Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of INEC, at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. Ruben Aguilera, the acting Head of Development Cooperation at the European Union Delegation, oversaw the presentation of the tools. These tools comprise the Collation and Returning Officers Management System (CROMS), Election Results Management System (ERMS), Political Parties Financial Reporting and Audit System (PFRAS), a Media Monitoring and Analysis tool, and an online application for voters and electoral officers to easily locate polling units nationwide.
Mahmood Yakubu praised EU-SDGN for their support and expressed INEC’s commitment to carefully evaluate the tools for potential adoption or adaptation to address the evolving challenges in electoral conduct. He lauded the EU-SDGN’s Phase II Project, which covers multiple aspects of INEC’s functions, such as planning, operational capacities, communication, stakeholder engagement, and training.
Yakubu emphasized that the collaboration between DAI’s consultants and INEC’s technical team resulted in tools tailored to tackle specific hurdles encountered during electoral activities. These tools aim to bolster efficiency, diligence, and public trust in the electoral process.
“The ERMS seeks to ensure better results management process, enhancing accuracy and creating a repository of election results, something envisaged by Section 62 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“The Media Monitoring and Analysis tool intends to enhance the Commission’s capacity to filter media coverage of the Commission.
“The PFRAS seeks to assist the commission to monitor political party finance more efficiently and effectively,” he said.
The suite includes innovative solutions like CROMS, which streamlines the recruitment of collation and returning officers, ERMS to enhance the results management process, and PFRAS to improve the monitoring of political party finances. Yakubu stressed that these tools are not limited to a single electoral cycle but will benefit future elections and activities.
EU-SDGN’s Phase II support extends from 2022 to 2027, spanning two electoral cycles. The support covers various aspects of Nigerian democracy, including the National Assembly, the judiciary, political parties, media, civil society organizations, and inclusivity efforts for women, youth, and people with disabilities.
“The tools, therefore, offer innovative solutions that could foster efficiency, speed, due diligence, and trust in the electoral process, “Mr Yakubu said.
Ruben Aguilera of the European Union Delegation highlighted the significance of the tools in improving INEC’s operations and Nigeria’s electoral system. He emphasized the EU’s dedication to supporting democratic systems globally, as they believe strong democratic institutions are essential for national development and citizen welfare. The collaboration between the EU and INEC, ongoing since Nigeria’s democratic transition in 1999, remains strong, and lessons from the 2023 general elections will guide future collaborations and engagements.
“I would like to thank DAI and the EU-SDGN Project Phase II. The Commission is open to future collaboration with the EU through its implementing partners.
“I must also continue to emphasize that core electoral activity are still funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a sovereign responsibility,” Mr. Yakubu said.
On his part, Mr. Aguilera said that the EU was hopeful that the tools handed over to INEC would contribute to improving the Commission’s operations and Nigeria’s electoral system.
“Today’s handing over of these management tools is another example of how this collaboration can translate into concrete actions and supports for the benefit of INEC and Nigeria as a whole.
“We are looking at providing you new election results management systems tools that facilitate and provide an efficient management of results,” Mr Aguilera said.
The handover of these innovative tools symbolizes the tangible outcomes of EU-SDGN’s collaborative efforts, aiming to reinforce Nigeria’s democratic processes and governance.
“As you know, EU support for election is consistent and part of our core principles.
“It is also in our own interest because we believe that without democracy, there is no way a country can address its citizens’ needs and can really fulfill its capacity for development and to provide for opportunity for all.
“Therefore, we think that strong democratic institutions are the core.
“We are really investing and doing our best to help in Nigeria to provide support for those institutions to get stronger every day.
“Stronger Nigeria also means stronger EU, and we really hope and sincerely believe that this a common endeavor,” he said.
“We are really looking forward to seeing how this will be implemented and could be part of a review of upcoming circle elections taking place in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Imo states.”