Nigerian politics is seemingly synonymous with political fraud and electoral violence. The background and composition of Nigeria as a polity presents a very difficult political situation. Nigeria comprises of more than 250 different nationalities and tribes with about 150 million people. This composition presented an intriguing political scenarios shrouded with ethnicism and irredentism. From 1999 to the most recent 2011 general elections, there are overwhelming evidences of electoral fraud and violence across Nigeria. Our political elites are still unable to resolve the Nigeria election turmoil towards ensuring credible and violence free elections. Most times, rather than work towards ensuring coherent tapping of potentials and unification of the different ethnic nationalities for a stronger federation, the political elites often resort to balkanization and instigation of ethnic and religious rancor to score selfish political points.
In the recent past, elections in Nigeria has been plagued with continued instability and violence, with thousands of violent incidents occurring in the period leading up to, during, and after Election Day. These incidents ranged from defacing of election posters to inter- and intra-party clashes, violent protests, intimidation, arson, attacks, abductions, and killings. All these violent acts continue to severely disrupt the Nigerian electoral process.
While in the previous elections the opposition parties are advising Nigerians “Vote, Remain in the Polling Station until votes are counted to Protect/Guard your Votes” in many instances, location or situations the Guard your vote strategy is not practical or possible owing to the interference of the security operatives or thugs that mostly prevent voter from staying in the polling stations or thugs that threaten voter with violence.
Similarly, with the advent of Boko Haram and the Franchise Boko Haram the tendencies for extreme violence is very real, thus the concept of converging in one area (polling station) for the purpose of protecting votes is simply unthinkable, because of the possibilities of premeditated bomb attacks and other form of violence many Nigerians will simply opt for safety (go home in one piece) . However, things shall be left to chance or the Current government.
The most realistic option, easiest and practical solution is to use technology to “Protect Votes and People’s Mandate” this is possible by using ordinary handsets cameras to capture ballots after thump-printing ( after choosing preferred candidate) before casting the ballot paper into the ballot box.
Voters may use Handset to Photograph their Ballot Papers using a Mobile App and send the data to the storage server. In this way Voters will be able to Guard/Protect their Votes! without the fear of any physical confrontations (if network is not available at the time, users can save the image and it send later).
The collected data is store in a cloud server online, the data is accessible only to authorized user and can be linked to the Voter, his Location and Name if needed. The framework of the app & cloud backend is flexible as it will allow each contestant to subscribe to the service and get a separate dashboard with all the available data management tools.
The Solution is Practical and Realistic
This option, is deem viable because of the following facts about Nigerian Telecom usage and situations on ground.
The important point is these information and resources can be used to the advantages of Elites and Common Nigerians alike, the mobile apps can be made available in three flavors Android, RIM, iOS, and Windows. Other Older phone users with Simbian OS phones can use WAP to transfer their captured ballot images to the server.
A cascading strategy can be used to for easy data analysis, data sorting and to prevent system overload. In this case voters can submit their copy of ballots by selecting the agreed channel which will be communicated to voters during campaigns;
- By sending to Contestants;
- By sending to Ward Coordinator;
- By sending to LGA Coordinator;
- By sending to State Coordinator;
- By sending to National Coordinator;
Beta Version 1.1, of Rescue Nigeria App is available for download HERE for trial and testing. Soon the app will be available in Google App Store Free for all Nigerians to install on their phones.
Note on Installing the Direct Download version 1.1
Installation of apps directly on Android Phones that are not from Google Store will require user to enable install from Unknown Sources (a feature in android settings page that allows installation of non-Marker application – it is located Application Settings) The current version is for android 3.0 and above (other operating systems will be available soon).
The Mobile app allows users to send same message to as many recipients as he desires without incurring additional costs. The option on how data is collected & collated is open and can be configured in variety of ways.
Click here to view INEC’s recommended steps on how to Vote
with a simple addition at the last stage – capture ballots with handset camera before casting into the ballot box, the voter is guaranteed an insurance policy for his vote.
At step 4 User shall use Handset to Photograph his Ballot Paper using Recue Nigeria App and send in to the storage server. In this way Voters will be able to Guard/Protect their Votes! without any physical confrontations (if network is not available at the time user can save the image and it send later).
Features and Screens of the Rescue Nigeria App
In a nutshell when a user captures his ballot paper using mobile phone camera, he can send a copy to designated recipient for his area, Local Government, State or National Coordinators the process is explained below. Additionally the voter can keep a copy of his ballot. The data is stored in a database which can be downloaded conveniently in various file formats such as Excel, CSV, SQL, XML, Text. See a graphic example below.
Data collected is available on cloud backend is flexible as it will allow each contestant to subscribe to the service and get a separate dashboard with all the available data management tools.
We hope Nigerian elites will give technology a chance in order to curb election rigging and violence in the most peaceful way.