Nigeria’s presidential elections were concluded on 25th of February 2023 and like any complex process, there were many mistakes. However, the greatest mistake made was Nigerians believing Mahmood Yakubu’s INEC had intentions of conducting free and fair elections.
The most important aspect from the new electoral act was the ability and legality for results to be transmitted from the PUs directly to the INEC servers and avoid the manipulation that usually occurred along the way. The process had worked fairly well in the guber elections of Osun State and Ekiti State. All was set for it to be the same for the presidential elections, Right? Wrong!
On Feb 25th, Nigerians trooped out, voted, a few took pictures of their results and went home. They took for granted that the results would be submitted directly from the PUs as intended. Those that stayed back realised something fishy – the results suddenly couldn’t get uploaded then or for many days later. (My PU result wasn’t uploaded until 2 weeks later)
As the results started getting announced, it was clear why the delay happened – they had been “configured” along the way. What INEC officials were announcing on TV did not tally with the results they heard, say and in many cases, had pictures of.
While many party agents protested the discrepancies from what they “knew”, few of them had specific proof of infraction. A lot depending on randomly crowdsourced images floating around on twitter.
The announcement of a winner was made at 4am and the score was clear.
Yakubu Mohammed 1 – 0 Nigerians seeking a fair election.
Getting my hands dirty.
When it became clear what had happened, we had to rectify the past, but more sub-national elections had to take place and the mistake of Feb 25th had to be rectified.
It was clear what had to be done. But who will do it?
A few days after the election, I began reaching out to a few folks that were building tools for crowdsourcing results from the polling stations. The idea was that on the day of the election, people would upload their results to these websites.
However, I strongly believed they were deficient in a very core aspect, we needed to know BEFORE the election that we had a spread of people at each Polling Unit. If it is only after elections are over, you find you do not have the coverage of all PUs, it would be too late to do anything about it.
So I held calls with a number of teams with one request – allow people to indicate their PUs before the election. If you have 10,000 people on the service, it is no use if 8,000 are in Lekki. Allowing people to indicate ahead of time would let you know “there is no one in Epe to take election pictures” and you have time before the election to get agents or volunteers.
After spending a week trying to convince folks (I am the best at telling others what to do) I came to the realisation, “You bin sabi this thing that year o”. So I reached out to my man Ozo from way back -We had always wanted to work together since we first tried to do a startup back in 2005/2006. He also introduced me to twitter.
He had a prototype he was working on and was willing to do the modifications required. I quickly wrote the requirement doc, opened my old Moqups account and did the wireframe, and reached out to a designer Abiodun who interpreted it well. We got a frontend Dev, Daniel and a back end fella, Sadiq and got to work.
The result is Collate – crowdsourcing Nigerian election results directly from polling units. How it works is very straightforward. You register with your PU. On the election day, you enter your PU results for a particular and submit. That’s it. The objective is to ensure the true results from the PUs are available to the public ASAP.
There are many things that should be done but the most important thing is getting at least one person on Collate in each of the 150K polling units, in 2 days. Mental? Yes. But it is also possible.
If you care about free and fair elections in Nigeria, all we need you to do is register and share the url http://collate.africa. We need to cover as many polling units as possible in a few days so please share far and wide.
PS: When I told people I was launching a product, they assumed I meant a startup. All startups have a product but all products don’t necessarily need to be a company. But I have to tell you, these few days have tempted me I no go lie 😉