Ahead of the March 28 and April 11 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission has procured about 20,000 backup card readers and 35,000 backup batteries.
The procurement of the backup devices is part of the precautionary measures by INEC to forestall challenges that may arise during the accreditation process of the elections.
Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, confirmed the development to PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr. Idowu said the Commission had learned from the Ghana experience where card readers for election could not work due to battery problems.
In the case of Nigeria, although the card readers could work for 12 hours when used continuously where as accreditation process is to last for only five hours, he said, yet the Commission has procured about 35,000 spare batteries, “so that if, for whatever reason, there may be a challenge with the battery, one can replace it”.
Further, he said several integrity tests for the machines had been carried out in the United States, saying they don’t fail easily and are of highest quality.
“In spite of that, we have bought nearly 20,000 spares, in addition to 152,000 active card readers, so that if for any reason the card reader malfunctions and can no longer continue, the spares would be deployed at the wards for the exercise,” he added.
Similarly, Mr. Idowu noted that if a card reader cannot be replaced before the time for accreditation is over that day, the exercise would be repeated the following day.
He said this option is preferred to reverting to manual accreditation by political parties because human error would always arise in such an arrangement.
He also said poor mobile connection would not be a challenge as the card readers make use of sim cards, adding that the machines are designed with built-in memory due to poor network coverage that may be experienced in some areas.
Mr. Idowu said there were no challenges of data manipulation and use of fake permanent voter cards.
He said all the cards are preconfigured for respective polling units and added that after the accreditation of voters, INEC’s central server would receive real time information on the exercise, including the number of accredited voters before the casting of ballot proper would commence.
The process, Mr. Idowu said, will check over voting.
While briefing the Senate Wednesday, Mr. Jega had said wherever total vote casts are higher than accreditation figure, election would be cancelled in such polling unit.
Mr. Idowu further ruled out data manipulation as a challenge, explaining that INEC would receive real-time information on the accreditation exercise and that the system is fool proof.