The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will partner with the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, NIGCOMSAT, to deploy appropriate technology to enhance the 2019 general elections.
According to a report on the commission’s site inecnews.com, the chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this while addressing the management of NIGCOMSAT in Abuja on Tuesday.
The INEC Chairman noted that time had come to “mobilise all national asset and institutions for the success of elections.”
Mr. Yakubu, who was at the agency’s office with members of the commission, expressed optimism that partnering with NIGCOMSAT, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, as well as telecommunications operators in the country would ensure “that challenges to the seamless transmission of results are defeated.”
The commission had earlier sought the help of the NCC to electronically transmit and collate results during the said elections.
Mr. Yakubu explained that the commission planned to leverage on the capacity of NIGCOMSAT to provide a wide range of telecommunication services especially in some areas not fully covered by 3G or 4G networks.
“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.
“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 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 sensitisation through electronic message display.
Stressing on the importance of the collaboration between both organisations, he said: “This is also one way to actualise the lofty goals of NIGCOMSAT to positively impact on national development in diverse sectors through deployment of high-tech telecommunications infrastructure.”
Mr. Yakubu reassured Nigerians that the commission would continue to make hard copies of result sheets available to political party agents at each polling unit to back the integrity of electronically transmitted results, as they “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.”
The Director General/Chief Executive of NIGCOMSAT, Abimbola Alale, assured that her organisation 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 you,” she 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.