Ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday met with three other former presidents and the ex-chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, ahead of 2019 general elections.
Obasanjo met with the past leaders to suggest models of successful deployment of ICT in electoral systems in Africa to make it easy to sustain democracy during elections.
The former presidents, at the meeting, discussed issues relating to election processes, electronic voting and how to find a lasting solution to disruptive use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on electoral process in Africa at large.
The leaders present at the meeting include Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria); John Mahama (Ghana); Ernest Koroma (Sierra Leone), Raila Odinga (Kenya), and Attahiru Jega, former chairman of INEC, met in Abeokuta, Ogun state at a two-day high-level working group meeting on Mitigating Disruptive Applications of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the Electoral Process in Africa.
Obasanjo noted that ICT had come to stay, but that it could be a good servant or bad master in the conduct of elections.
”About three weeks ago, the Africa Progress Group (APG) which I chair was formally inaugurated and we are delighted that the secretariat of APG is the venue of this important meeting which has to do with the progress of Africa.
“One of the pillars of Africa’s progress in my five ‘P’s as adopted by APG at its inaugural meeting of November 27, 2018, is politics; the others are prosperity, population, protection and partnerships.
“This meeting on the election process is within the framework of the pillar of politics. Deficit in the election process will translate to deficit in politics (and vice versa) which in turn will impede sound governance, a much sought-after element in the development of Africa.
“During the course of this meeting, we will be addressing one of the key issues that is at the heart of credible elections in Africa – Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the election process.
“ICT is here to stay, pervading and increasingly impacting all aspects of our lives, including the conduct of elections. But it can be a good servant or a bad master.
“This is why, I believe, that the outcomes of our deliberations will have far-reaching implications for the quality and credibility of the election firmament in Africa now and in the future.
“It is a subject that has engaged the attention of numerous regional and global organisations, including the African Union. This meeting presents an important addition to those previous efforts.
“More than an addition, our meeting hopefully will present new and refreshing insights to how ICT can be better used in delivering credible elections in Africa and for the rest of the world,” Obasanjo said.
On his part, Jega noted essential areas that technology has not yet been fully utilized to include: electronic collation and transmission of results as well as electronic voting.
“Opportunities need to be explored and adequately utilised. But, we must constantly remember that use of ICT in elections is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.
“That end, perhaps, is electoral integrity for deepening and consolidating democracy. We need to constantly deploy measures that can ensure secure and sustainable use of ICTs in our electoral processes,” he said.