The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has sought the help of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to electronically transmit and collate results during the 2019 general elections.
The Chairman of the electoral commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said this during a visit to the NCC on Tuesday as the general election draws near.
The INEC delegation was received by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Dambatta, and other management staff of the organisation.
The commission chairman said INEC was committed to deepening the deployment of technology in elections, adding that this is the reason there is need to discuss with telecommunications operators in Nigeria so that election results can be electronically collated and transmitted.
INEC said it also wants NCC to help in voter education and publicity towards 2019 by sending bulk SMS on imperative of peaceful elections, collection of permanent voters cards by registered voters and directional information on the location of polling units.
“Today, millions of Nigerians communicate by means of mobile phones and equally receive news and information using the same device,” Mr. Mahmood said.
“For us in INEC, it is one of the most effective means of communicating with citizens in the area of voter education and sensitization.
“INEC is committed to deepening the deployment of technology in elections. To this end,the commission introduced and deployed the biometric voter registration in 2011 general elections and Smat Card Reader, SCR, in 2015 general elections.
“The time has come to electronically collate and transmit election results. We are convinced that by doing so,results will be transmitted caste and more accurately from polling units to the various collation and declaration centres.
“In several re-run and bye elections conducted since the 2015 general elections, the commission has deployed the electronic collation and transmission platforms on a pilot basis. More recently, we conducted simultaneously electronic and manual transmission of results in some majors elections.
“We are planning for full deployment this year in the governorship elections in Ekiti state in July and Osun state in September. Thereafter, we intend to deploy the system in the 2019 general elections.
“In order to achieve this objective, it is imperative to discuss with the telecommunications operators in Nigeria. INEC has the hardware and have developed the software as well. However, we have to rely on the operators for the transmission of both the figures and the scanned images of result sheet.
“We wish to assure Nigerians that while we will transmit the raw figures from the polling units, scanned images of the result sheets will also be transmitted electronically in addition to the physical copies given to political party agents at each polling unit and each level of collation. Therefore, their will be paper trail against which the integrity of electronjcally- transmitted figures can be compared and verified.”
The commission appealed to the NCC as a regulator to facilitate a meeting between INEC and the telecommunication operators.
“Similarly, we would like the NCC to facilitate discussion with the operators on ways of enhancing their corporate social responsibility to Nigeria’s electoral process. An immediate area of interest to INEC is how the operators can help in voter education and publicity.”
Mr. Dambatta assured INEC of NCC’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections and said the commission would deploy all that is needed technically and knowledge wise to ensure this.
“I promise the chairman that we’ll lend our professional advice, experience in the area of telecom, in the area of regulating the industries to ensure we obtain the desired result, so that in the final analysis, will be justified by the result we see.
“Telecom has succeeded in making nonsense of distance. What is separating us electronically is zero distance.It is this speed that we hope to bring here. To transmit result and collate result,” he said.
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