The Independent National Electoral commission has spent about N34.4 billion on importation of 132,000 units of data capturing machine for the 2011 voter registration exercise but Mohammed Abubakar, Minister of Science and Technology said Nigeria may not have to spend that much again on elections as local technologies for the same purpose are now available.
Mr Abubakar said that “the electronic voting machine developed by the Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited, NIGCOMSAT, can assist the nation in biometric registration for election” and that by 2015 it will be ready for use at the election.
The minister told journalists in Abuja that the technology would have been used for 2011 voter registration exercise but for some logistics that are not in place.“We have developed that capacity (production of electronic voting machine),” he said. “There was no time for experiment and we did not want to take chances with this present voter registration, that is why we are postponing the use of these indigenous voting machines till 2015.
Nigerian scientists and engineers have really done well with this new feat.”
He equally stated that there is need for the private sector to partner with the research institutes of the ministry to commercialise their research outputs since their mandate as a ministry ends in production of prototypes.
“Private sector has to come in. They prefer to import. We need entrepreneurs to support us with funds so that we can meet international standards. Nigerian scientists are coming up with interesting research and development results,” he said.
Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission had earlier paid a visit to the NIGCOMSAT office where he inspected the products and pledged his commission’s collaboration with the company.
According to Mr Jega, “INEC will partner with all stakeholders including NIGCOMSAT to enable the nation have a credible election in 2011. I am very pleased and I want to assure you that in whatever way we can work together, in the interest of this country, we will be willing to do so.”
Timasaniyi Ahmed-Rufai, Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT said that apart from the electronic voting machine, the company has network supporting video and voice polling that will help INEC to monitor the election both from states, councils and INEC Headquarters.
“While the local government elections could be monitored in the state headquarters through cameras strategically planted at the polling units, INEC Headquarters will also be able to monitor through satellite device that will help beam the activities of the states and local councils to the headquarters directly.
“NIGCOMSAT will be able to assist the commission on the e-register process if given the mandate to do so,” he said.
|Source: Ngozi Sams, NEXT