….Yakubu calls it significant innovation
By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Independent National Commission, INEC, yesterday commenced the screening of applications from over 40 IT (Information Technology) firms bidding to kick start the use of Electronic Voting Machines in the nation’s future elections.
The Commission described the development as another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process.
Speaking at the ceremony, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, explained that the companies would demonstrate how their IT solutions would meet the commission’s specifications.
Prof. Yakubu described the demonstration as another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process and INEC’s continuous effort to deepen electoral integrity in Nigeria through the deployment of technology.
He declared that INEC has, over the years, been automating the critical pillars of the process including the continuous update of the country’s biometric register of voters.
The INEC register of voters, Yakubu disclosed, is the largest data base of citizens in Nigeria.
Prof Yakubu, in his speech said, “Over the years, the Commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously.
“At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.
“In addition, the combination of biometric voters’ cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and the Smart Card Reader (SCR) have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.
“Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view.
“These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“Today, the commission is taking yet another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process.
“For some time now, the commission has been working on the deployment of technology in voting during elections to replace the current manual system which is tedious and requires enormous logistics to deliver huge quantities of printed materials and a large number of ad hoc staff to administer the process.
“To this end, the Commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine.
“After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.
“Over 40 companies that indicated interest will demonstrate to the commission how their IT solutions meet our specifications”, he explained.
Prof Yakubu explained that the demonstration was to enable the electoral body evaluate the available technology and fine tune its specifications before proceeding to the next stage, stressing that details of the next steps, which would involve the participation of stakeholders, would be given at the end of the demonstrations