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- Category: Politics
- Published on Tuesday, 07 September 2010 08:09
- Written by Compass
- Hits: 1900
THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has acquired 120,000 Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDCM). Consequently, the commission will begin the registration of voters by the third week of October, its Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, said yesterday.
He said that the greatest challenge of the electoral umpire “is the short time-frame within which we must compile voter register and conduct the polls”.
The INEC boss made the disclosure when he received members of Course 32, Group One of the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in his office in Abuja.
According to Jega, the commission was targeting the registration of 70 million voters in the exercise, which he said would terminate in the first week of November.
He added: “One of the first things we did was to look at the old voter register and we were concerned about what we discovered. It clearly showed a lot of discrepancies, which made us to decide that the current register is not good enough for next year’s elections.
“Obviously, the task of attempting to do a fresh voter register to prepare for elections early next year is very a formidable and challenging task, but we have overcome some of these challenges, especially the issue of funds. We have made a case for funding and we have received the funding that we requested for. “However the time constraint is still of concern to us; time remains our greatest challenge, although we are doing our best to see that we overcome it. The more time we have, the better job we can do of this assignment.
“So, in terms of preparations for the elections, it is clear for us that if we take the constitutional amendments into consideration and the new Electoral Act 2010, the first election is expected to hold at the earliest on the 8th of January and if this must be so, then we have to complete the voters registration by the 9th of November and we have to certify the register by the 9th of December.
“These are the time lines, according to the 2010 Electoral Act, and also the Constitution. Although, this is a remarkable improvement in terms of time compared to the 2006 Electoral Act as under that Act, we would probably have no time to do a fresh voter registration.
“We will try to register everybody before the elections. As we prepare for the voter registration, we will put into our preparation the need to avoid the mistakes of the past.”
The INEC chairman said the commission had tried to address some of the problems noticed in the past exercise, such as inadequate and inaccurate equipment, by ensuring that they are appropriate in terms of specifications.
He said “we will also ensure that the problems of sub-standard equipment are addressed. There is also in the past the problem of poorly-trained registration officers. We are also preparing that our ad hoc staff members are appropriately and adequately trained. There was also in the past the problem of the use of a hand-held device. So, because of the problems of that device, we decided to use the laptop registration system. “There is also the problems of inadequate storage and power. We have taken all these into consideration and our registration plan now is that we are planning to acquire Direct Data Capture Machines (DDC) and we are going to deploy one in each of the 120,000 polling units in the country. The registration will take place from the third week of October into the first week of November and we are working hard to ensure that we succeed.”
On how the exercise would progress, the Jega, said: “We have estimated that between nine and 10 minutes, we will register about one person, using the direct capture machines. So, working for about eight hours daily, we expect to register about 70 million in 14 days. This has taken into consideration all lapses. So, if there are about 70 million Nigerians waiting to be registered, we hope to finish the registration in 14 days with about 360,000 registration officers, who we are going to recruit from the NYSC (National Youth Service Corps).”
He said the process for the acquisition of the DDCM was at an advanced stage, adding that the commission was engaging the services of “very good companies that can actually deliver within the time frame”.
Earlier, the leader of the group, Prof. Olu Obafemi, had told the INEC chairman that they were at the commission to interact with the members and share knowledge on the way forward in the quest for credible elections in the country.