INEC targets 200,000 electronic voting machines ahead 2023 general election.

Written by on June 27, 2021

With less than two years to the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission has proposed to buy about 200,000 electronic voting machines to cater for the 176,846 Polling Units in the country.

As such, the agency’s Electronic Voting Implementation Committee has been reconstituted and has commenced work.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, who revealed this yesterday explained that a team of INEC’s in-house engineers were currently evaluating proposals submitted by 49 companies, both local and foreign, for the supply of the machines.

The commission said its engineering team would consider factors such as the machines’ ruggedness and design before short-listing any of the companies.

Asked how many companies had been invited to present supply proposals, Okoye noted that the commission has not invited and short-listed any company for the purpose of supplying the electronic voting machines as at the time of filling this Report.

The commission stated that companies that came for the RFI demonstration were from Nigeria, the Netherlands, China, the United States, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and India.

Asked the reason for the delay in short-listing the successful companies, the INEC commissioner cited factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, expansion of voter access to Polling Units, and the constitutive legal instrument backing up the deployment of e-voting machines in the electoral process.

Okoye said the resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration exercise had taken a lot of the commission’s attention, adding that an Electronic Voting Implementation Committee had been reconstituted and had commenced work.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had said during the 2021 budget defence before the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters on November 4, 2020 that the commission would deploy the electronic voting machines very soon, possibly beginning with the Anambra governorship poll scheduled to hold in November this year.

However, the commission has been seeking an amendment of the legal framework that would enable electronic voting, noting that it remained committed to introducing electronic voting machines in the electoral process to replace the manual system that had put the commission under heavy logistics burden, including the printing of electoral papers and hiring of thousands of ad hoc staff, among others.

Although there had been divided opinions on whether Nigeria was ripe for electronic voting, Yakubu said at the inauguration of the 1999 Constitution Review Committee of the House of Representatives in October 2020 that elections in the country were too manual, expensive, cumbersome and archaic.

He further stressed that the encumbrance of the deployment of full technology in elections should be removed.

Yakubu also recently said at a public hearing on the Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill sponsored by Senator Abubakar Kyari that the timetable for the 2023 general elections would be released in November 2021.

Meanwhile, ahead of the Anambra State governorship election slated for November 6, INEC said it had begun repairing its destroyed facilities in the state and replacing some of its non-sensitive materials affected by the destructions.

Gunmen had in the past few months launched attacks on INEC and other government facilities, particularly in the South-East.

The gunmen burnt the INEC office in Anambra State on May 23. During the attack, the commission stated that it lost its Collation Centre, seven utility vehicles, and 50 per cent of all non-sensitive materials.

However, INEC said it had started rebuilding its office to enable it to conduct the governorship election taking place in the state in less than five months from now.

Asked if there would be Continuous Voter Registration in areas in the South-East where INEC offices had been burnt, Okoye said the commission would start the CVR with online registration, which he said would commence on June 28, after which the commission would begin physical registration in the state and local government offices on July 19.

In preparation for the online voter registration, the commission said it had acquired and launched the Voter Enrolment Device, noting that registrants with no legal disability would start their registration online and complete it at the designated registration centres, where their biometrics would be captured.

On general preparations for the 2023 elections, INEC said it had worked hard on its processes and procedures and striving to build a democratic and independent institution.

The commission also urged political parties to become more democratic and inclusive.

Meanwhile, the Daudu Amule Olomo-Oba Royal Dynasty in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State has asked INEC to avoid rewriting the history of Ilorin Emirate Communities in the name of creating new polling units.

The royal house said this in reaction to INEC’s creation of a Polling Unit named Daudu Amule Oloko-Obi Open Space, 034 new Polling Unit in Magaji Are Ward l, Ilorin East Local Government Area.

INEC had recently created new polling units across the country to make polling stations nearer to voters during elections.

But in a statement signed by a member of the Daudu Amule family, Mallam Abdulkadir Saheed, who is also the Public Relations Officer of Amule Olomo-Oba Community Development Association, the community said it would not condone a distortion of its history.

The community cautioned INEC against rewriting history of a community in the name of creating a new Polling Unit.

Credit: Punch

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