A national daily not (The Tide), in its online publication of May 13, 2019, reported a news item that positioned Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, as the first tertiary institution in Nigeria to conduct Student Union Government (SUG) online-based election thereby demonstrating abrogation to nomothetism.
The report came on the heels of the claim by DELSU that it is the first to ever conduct SUG online elections in Nigeria. This is not true and it is proper to correct the claim.
To set the records straight, University of Ilorin (Unilorin) was the first to conduct an Internet-based SUG election in Nigeria. A friend, Ikenna Hakam Ogundu, who had his NYSC experience in the university explained to me that students voted at different locations, irrespective of distance, provided they were eligible and had access to the school’s portal.
However, this is similar to what transpired at Rivers State University (RSU), Nkpolu-Oroworokwo, Port Harcourt, where Internet voting continued for the second time in a tertiary institution in Nigeria. Zeb-Obipi (2018), in hisseminal paper on e-voting in universities, asserts that RSU resorted to an Internet-based electronic voting (e-voting) process since 2016 and has been able to sustain it back-to-back without any much crisis anytime.
The author, who has been serving as Dean of Student Affairs of RSU since November 2015, further stated that sister institutions are already liaising with the university to make the e-voting trend workable at their ends.
He further describes e-voting as an electoral system in which voters elect their preferred candidates for respective offices using an electronic medium such as computer networks, the Internet and instant messaging with various levels of convenience, speed and transparency.
In its computer network form, according to Zeb-Obipi, voters go to a designated centre fitted with some networked computers to cast their votes and the network collates the votes to provide results at the end of the voting period.
On the other hand, in its Internet form, the RSU don informs that voters anywhere in the world that have access to the Internet and are eligible can cast their votes through a given URL and these votes are collated in real time to give the eventual results of the election.
The most advanced stage, however, is instant messaging format where voters are able to cast their votes through text messages (SMS) like what the Big Brother Naija does for the public to vote for their preferred house mates. To the best of my knowledge, as at today, no university in Nigeria has attained this height; hopefully soon.
As a matter of fact, University of Calabar, as well as Ignatius Ajuru University of Education in Port Harcourt are notably ahead of DELSU in terms of SUG online elections.
In the light of the foregoing, one cannot help but wonder where, indeed, DELSU should be ranked in terms of SUG online elections? First, second, or third place? There can be no better description of this claim other than white-coated propaganda! It may have been couched on hasty generalization. It is misleading, misinforming and misinterpreting of the academic and media industry of Nigeria.
Let it be known that RSU is the second tertiary institution in Nigeria to go full scale on Internet-based SUG elections in Nigeria with real-time results streaming in intermittently and declaration of results made on the same day, after Unilorin that had started the process in 2014. Moreso, the Rivers varsity, in its zest for excellence and creativity, is the first tertiary institution in Nigeria to host live radio debate for SUG election aspirants. The debate session which started in 2015, is such that aspirants get to express their uniqueness to students who listen randomly and later call in to question policies, programmes and ideologies. The programme airs on the university’s radio station, Excel 103.7FM.
Finally, it baffles me to find that the Nigerian media is yet to come of age; if not, tell me what happened to our investigative prowess. How could categorical claim to knowledge and truth be so dignified in no less a medium than Vanguard Newspaper which ought to be at the forefront of upholding journalistic ethics, morals and principles?
Waribor is a post-graduate student of Rivers State University, PH.