By Nathaniel Gana
8th Febuary, 2018
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has yet again taken steps to make good its assurance of raising the bar in the 2019 general elections by approaching the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) for partnering on technology deployment for the elections.
Addressing the Management of NIGCOMSAT in Abuja today, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, noted that time had come to mobilize all national assets and institutions for the success of elections in Nigeria.
Professor Yakubu who was at the Agency’s office with members of the Commission, Secretary to the Commission and Directors expressed optimism that partnering with NIGCOMSAT, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as well as the Telecommunications operators in the country would ensure that challenges to the seamless transmission of results are surmounted.
He explained that the Commission planned to leverage on the capacity of NIGCOMSAT to provide a wide range of telecommunication services especially in some areas where Polling Units were located in area not fully covered by 3G or 4G netwoks.
The INEC Chairman said: “Through the NCC, we are reaching out to the telecommunications operators for the necessary connectivity to ensure that results of elections from each of the 119,973 Polling Units nationwide are electronically transmitted, including scanned images of result sheets.
‘’While we appreciate the tremendous reach of the telecommunications operators, we are equally aware that some of our Polling Units are located in places where 3G and 4G networks are not available for real time electronic transmission of results”.
He continued: “we wish to leverage the capacity of the NIGCOMSAT to provide a wide range of telecommunication services. In particular, your broadband service offers tremendous flexible bandwidth capacity that can be deployed almost anywhere and in a short period of time, including hard-to-reach and temporary locations. These are invaluable to the work of INEC”.
According to the INEC Chairman, areas of collaboration the Commission looks forward to include: “Extension of Satellite coverage to areas currently not covered by 3G and 4G networks so that INEC can transmit election results from each Polling Unit nationwide irrespective of location; and Voter Education and sensitization through electronic message display”.
Buttressing the importance of the collaboration between both organizations, the INEC Chairman said: “This is also one way to actualize the lofty goals of NIGCOMSAT to positively impact on national development in divers sectors through deployment of high-tech telecommunications infrastructure.
Professor Yakubu however reassured Nigerians that the Commission would continue to make hard copies of results sheets to political party agents at each polling unit and collation centres against which the integrity of electronically transmitted results can be compared, verified and authenticated. “And in keeping with our current practice, a copy of result for each election shall be pasted at the Polling Units immediately after the counting of the ballots for public knowledge”, he assured.
In her response, the Director General/ Chief Executive of NIGCOMSAT, Mrs Abimbola Alale, assured that her organization was willing to support the Commission in the consolidation of democracy. “We are very delighted that we can be of service to you and to be able to drive democracy to a new and better height. We want to be your partner, we want to work with”, Mrs Alale said.
Some of the areas where NIGCOMSAT assured it could deploy its expertise to enhance the electoral process include: Secure VPN Network; Asset Tracking and Fleet Management; Electronic Voting Solutions; Biometric and NFID access control; INECs DTH TV Channel; and Business Intelligence and analysis.