Media reports last week confirm that Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has introduced electronic voting system for use in all legislative proceedings in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
At the moment, voting in the House is done via a primitive – all in support say ‘Aye’, all who are against, say ‘nay’ – system, which is as opaque as opaque gets, and is generally a very inefficient way to do things in this 21st century.
Before now, there have been several campaigns on #OpenNASS directing the National Assembly to make its votes and proceedings on key national issues known to the public especially as it relates the National Budget, Gender Equality Bill, Cyber Crime Bill, among others.
As expected, Electronic voting system can include punched cards, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosks including self-contained direct-recording electronic voting systems. It can also involve transmission of ballots and votes via telephones, private computer networks, or the Internet.
The implication of this new system is that records of each member’s punctuality and voting patterns can easily be accessed by his or her constituents and members of the public. But knowing our fantastic country, we wouldn’t be surprised one bit if a bloated contract is awarded for the e-parliament – as they’ve described it – and a few months later, we start hearing excuses like “the server is down”, when a request is made for their voting data.
Nevertheless, E-voting has been achieved. Check. Next stop, we reinstate our demand that the breakdown of the 2016 National Assembly Budget be made public.