by Daminiyi Solebo
In light of another Nigerian election cycle filled with voter intimidation, suppression, rigging and fear, it is time to update our voting processes for the safety of the Nigerian people and elections.
Nigeria has a long history of election-related issues that have plagued the country’s political scene for decades. The issues range from outdated paper-based voting systems to the use of Personal Voter Cards (PVCs), which have been marred with allegations of fraud, violence, intimidation, and bribery during elections. These problems have led to a lack of trust among the citizens in the electoral process, and many people are disillusioned with the government.
However, there is hope for a better future, and blockchain technology could be the key to revolutionizing the election system in Nigeria. The decentralized and secure system offers a more transparent and accountable way of conducting elections, which could help restore the citizens’ faith in the democratic process. By using blockchain technology, Nigerians can have a safer and more inclusive voting experience that ensures their voices are heard and their votes count.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the benefits of blockchain technology in Nigeria’s electoral process. We will explore how the technology works, its advantages over traditional voting systems, and the potential challenges that may arise during its implementation. Through this, we hope to provide a comprehensive analysis of how blockchain technology can transform Nigeria’s electoral system and bring about positive change for its citizens.
Outdated Voting Systems and Election Violence
Nigeria has been using paper ballots for elections for decades, which are prone to errors, tampering, and ballot stuffing. In recent years, the country has switched to the use of PVC cards, which have also not been foolproof. Despite the fact that the PVC card system has been implemented as a way to improve the electoral process, there have been numerous reports of issues such as malfunctioning card readers, poor distribution and delivery of the cards, and inadequate training of election officials. These issues have led to confusion and frustration among voters, who are often left standing in long queues for hours on end. Furthermore, the issue of voter intimidation has continued to be a major concern in Nigerian elections, with reports of voters being threatened or coerced into voting for a particular candidate. This has resulted in a climate of fear and distrust among the electorate, undermining the legitimacy of the democratic process.
Another major issue facing Nigeria’s electoral system is the problem of ballot security. In many cases, ballot boxes have been snatched or hijacked by individuals seeking to alter the outcome of the election, or to prevent voters from casting their ballots. This has resulted in widespread violence and unrest, with clashes between rival political factions and security forces leading to the loss of lives and property. Moreover, the issue of voter bribery has continued to be a major challenge in Nigerian elections, with politicians offering cash and other incentives to voters in exchange for their vote. This practice has been particularly prevalent in rural areas, where poverty and unemployment are high, and voters are more susceptible to such inducements.
Blockchain Technology as a Solution
Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the way elections are conducted in Nigeria. With its decentralized nature, blockchain eliminates the need for a central authority, making it extremely difficult to tamper with votes. This could be the key to addressing the issues of election fraud and lack of transparency that have plagued Nigeria’s election process in the past.
Moreover, blockchain technology can provide secure and transparent voting opportunities for remote locations, enabling a more inclusive and democratic election process. This would be particularly important in Nigeria, where many voters live in rural areas with limited access to polling stations.
In addition, blockchain technology can also improve the speed and efficiency of vote counting, reducing the risk of human error and ensuring that results are delivered in a timely manner. This would increase the public’s trust in the election process and reduce the likelihood of post-election disputes.
Real-World Examples of Blockchain in Elections
Blockchain technology has already been used in a few elections worldwide. One such example is the use of blockchain technology in the 2018 mid-term elections in West Virginia, United States. In this election, the state allowed military personnel stationed overseas to vote remotely using a blockchain-based mobile app. The app provided secure and anonymous voting for military personnel, allowing them to cast their ballots without fear of fraud or manipulation. The use of blockchain technology ensured that the votes were counted accurately and transparently, giving military personnel the opportunity to have their say in the democratic process.
Another example of the use of blockchain technology in elections is in Sierra Leone’s 2018 presidential election. The country implemented a blockchain-based voting system to prevent fraud and ensure transparency in the electoral process. The blockchain system helped to reduce the time it took to count votes and increased the accuracy of the election results. Additionally, it allowed for real-time tracking of the election results, enabling voters and observers to monitor the process closely.
In both instances, the use of blockchain technology in elections provided several benefits, such as enhanced security, transparency, and accuracy. Blockchain technology offers a decentralized and tamper-proof system that can eliminate the risks of fraud and manipulation in the electoral process. By leveraging the security features of the blockchain, the technology ensures that each vote is counted accurately and without bias.
In the case of West Virginia’s elections, blockchain technology enabled remote voting, which can be particularly beneficial for people who are unable to travel to polling stations. This feature allows more people to participate in the democratic process, regardless of their location or physical abilities.
Benefits of Using Blockchain in Nigerian Elections
The use of blockchain technology in Nigerian elections can bring many benefits to the country. For instance, it can help to create a more efficient and cost-effective electoral system. The traditional electoral process is cumbersome and expensive, with a lot of manual processes and paperwork involved. Blockchain can streamline these processes by automating many of the tasks involved in voting, such as vote counting and result tabulation. This can help to reduce the time and cost involved in conducting an election, making it easier and more cost-effective for the government and the citizens.
Moreover, the use of blockchain technology can also help to build trust in the electoral system among Nigerians. The past elections in Nigeria have been marred by allegations of vote rigging, ballot box snatching, and violence. The use of blockchain technology can help to create a tamper-proof and secure voting system, which can instill confidence in the electoral process and ensure that the results are credible and trustworthy. This can help to improve the legitimacy of the government and promote stability in the country.
Furthermore, the use of blockchain technology can also enable the creation of a more decentralized and democratic electoral system in Nigeria. Blockchain technology is based on a decentralized ledger system, which means that there is no central authority or intermediary controlling the system. This can help to eliminate the risk of manipulation and bias, as well as promote a more democratic and participatory electoral process. It can also enable greater citizen engagement and input into the electoral process, which can help to increase the representation of diverse voices and opinions.
Challenges in Implementing Blockchain Technology in Nigerian Elections
While the benefits of using blockchain technology in Nigerian elections are significant, there are still challenges to overcome. One significant challenge is the lack of infrastructure required to support the use of blockchain technology. The implementation of blockchain technology will require a significant investment in technology and training, which may be challenging for a country like Nigeria that is still grappling with issues of infrastructural development. The technology required for blockchain-based voting systems, such as reliable internet connectivity and robust servers, must be in place to ensure seamless and efficient use of the technology. This will require significant investment in technology infrastructure and training for electoral officials, which may pose a financial burden on the government.
Another challenge is the need for trust and understanding of blockchain technology by all stakeholders involved in the electoral process. Blockchain technology is still a relatively new concept, and many people may be unfamiliar with its workings. Therefore, there is a need to educate electoral officials, political parties, and voters about the benefits and potential limitations of blockchain technology. This will help to build trust and confidence in the technology and ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding its use.
Finally, there is a need for a legal framework that will support the use of blockchain technology in Nigerian elections. There must be a clear legal framework that outlines the rules and regulations governing the use of blockchain technology in the electoral process. This includes issues such as data protection, privacy, and security. The legal framework must also provide a clear and unambiguous definition of the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the electoral process, such as electoral officials, political parties, and voters. This will help to prevent any ambiguity and ensure that everyone involved in the process understands their rights and obligations.
In conclusion, blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the electoral process in Nigeria. The outdated voting systems and election violence that have plagued the country for years can be addressed by implementing a more secure and transparent voting system. Blockchain technology can provide a decentralized and tamper-proof system that ensures each vote is counted accurately and without bias. Moreover, it can enable remote voting, making the democratic process more inclusive and accessible. Real-world examples from other countries have demonstrated the benefits of blockchain technology in increasing the security, transparency, and accuracy of elections.
While Nigeria’s current stance on cryptocurrencies and the slow adoption of new technologies may make the use of blockchain technology in Nigerian elections appear unfeasible, the benefits are undeniable. Advocating for and implementing this technology could help rebuild citizens’ trust in the democratic process and result in fairer and more democratic elections.