Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2011: NIGCOMSAT develops e-voting solution

The Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, has announced the development of electronic voting (eVoting) solution ahead of the 2011 general elections in the country.

This, the company said would assist the country in check mating electoral frauds.

According to the Managing Director, NIGCOMSAT, Mr. Ahmed Rufai, the solution is a 100 per cent home grown product designed, developed and fabricated by Nigerian engineers at NIGCOMSAT facility in Lugbe, Abuja.

“It’s been demonstrated to be very workable and if given the financial support needed to purchase materials, 40,000 sets can be produced within four months,” he said.

Before now, he said that the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Muhammed K. Abubakar had canvassed for official acceptance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the solution developed by an organisation under his ministry.

Also, he quoted Prof. Abubakar during inspection of the solution at NIGCOMSAT facilities as saying that the teams of engineers have proven that the eVoting solution is a sure proof that the solution to Nigeria’s problems lie at home.

“Based on what I have seen here today, I am highly impressed and confident enough to say that my ministry has developed a comprehensive solution for an electronic voting system that will ensure that every vote counts. I will bring this to the attention of Mr. President and the INEC chief for appropriate action,” the Minister said.

Equally, Abubakar said that with what the young engineers here have developed, biometric-based voters’ register could be produced before December this year by NIGCOMSAT given the necessary financial support.

“They have all that it takes to do this,” he declared.

Throwing more light, Rufai said that the solution is cost effective and provides a broad base multiplex of foolproof solutions at a fraction of what INEC sought to do in the last 2007 election, which was never implemented.

Being home-grown, he said, the solution eliminates the need for foreign exchange (FOREX) and addresses the core of Nigeria’s electoral fraud as clearly understood by the team of indigenous engineers who are all Nigerians.

“It’s cost effective, NIGCOMSAT already has the production line equipments in-place except for the copy and paste equipment, which is meant for mass production. It has also been demonstrated to be efficient because it is user friendly, a simple guide is embedded in the system and as soon as an individual confirms his or her candidate selection, the cast is recorded and sent to a central server, the system is also designed in such a way that each candidate can monitor the votes coming in and for whom. Remember also, that the engineers involved are in federal government employment. By way of comparison, total cost of ownership will be 20 times as much if imported from abroad as against being produced by NIGCOMSAT,” Rufai noted.

He explained that the registered voter ID with his passport photograph and finger print would be on the card to show that he is eligible to vote. A voter’s finger print would be screened against his card for authenticity and detect multiple registration.

“Once the finger matches with the one on the card, the voter is then eligible to vote. After a choice of candidate has been made, a printout of the political party, person, time and place he voted will be given to him with a copy placed in the ballot box,” he said.

This, he said, would prevent multiple registrations and voting, even as the system displays full names and pictures of candidates for various offices being contested for as registered by INEC along with names and logos of political parties they belong to.

He recalled that over 40 billion naira was invested on technology by INEC in 2007, emphasizing that NIGCOMSAT e-Voting system is based on Radio Frequency Identification (RFI) technology which uses a contact-less card system with enhanced security features embedded in a voting card.

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