Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila on Saturday expressed disappointment after the card reader at his polling unit failed during the Lagos local government elections.
Mr Gbajabiamila, speaking to Channels Television, said the incident was a sign that Nigeria is not ready for electronic transmission of results, an issue that divided the National Assembly recently.
Referencing election officials, the Speaker said the card reader failed due to poor network coverage.
The local government elections had held amid widespread apathy as many voters failed to turn out, according to Channels Television correspondents who monitored the process.
The Speaker, who represents Surulere 1 Constituency at the House of Representatives, said local government elections are “most important” because they are closer to the grassroots.
“This is the most important election,” he said. “Many will say Presidential, National Assembly elections.
“For me, it is more important for obvious reasons: the local government elections are where the grassroots is. And as is often said, any house that is built on sand or shaky grounds will crumble.
“You have to have solid ground to build a solid foundation to build a proper house. And that’s where the local government comes to play. These are the people of Nigeria. This is the vote that is closest to them.”
Card reader failure
While addressing the thorny issue of electronic transmission of election results, the Speaker said he supports progress.
However, in his estimation, the country may not yet be ready for a switch to electronic transmission.
“Many of us in the National Assembly want progressive elections and that includes electronic transmission of votes,” he said.
“But many are also acutely aware of the problems they have in their constituencies, where some people believe there is no network coverage. And that has come to play here today in practical terms.
“It is one thing to theorise and say we want electronic transmission, which is what I want and what many of my colleagues want. But it’s another thing to actually see it in operation.
“I came in here and unfortunately, in an urban cosmopolitan area, the card reader is not working.
“And I asked the officials what’s going and they said it hasn’t been working all day. And so they couldn’t really use the card reader. I asked why, they said because of network problems. So I had to fill an incident form.
“So, it’s almost like we are not there yet.”