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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2011 Elections: NCS berates INEC over unprofessionalism

THE Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the unprofessional deployment of Information Technology (IT) for the 2011 elections.

For NCS, the electoral body has debased the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Act 49 of 1993 by awarding contracts of its Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDCM) to two out of the three firms, namely Avante International Technology Incorporated and Haier Electrical Appliances Corps Limited, stressing the duo were not registered with the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN).

NCS president, Prof. Charles Uwadia raised this eye-brow in a chat with newsmen last weekend at the group’s national secretariat, accompanied by Deputy Provost, College of Fellow, Mr. Obi Okonkwo, First Vice President, Dr. David Adewumi, President, Prof. Charles Uwadia, Chairman, Publicity Committee, Mr. Tajudeen Ejalonibu and Chairman, Conferences Committee, Mr. Afolabi Salisu.

He noted that NCS, the umbrella body of all IT professionals in Nigeria, was established in 1978 with the aim of promoting the advancement of Computer Science, Information Technology and Systems and their application cum deployment to professional practice in education, government, the military, and industry.

According to him, in fulfillment of this mandate, NCS collaborates with government agencies in promoting and canvassing IT-driven solutions, including INEC.

He pointed out that the importance role of INEC in the nation’s democratic process are perhaps well known which led NCS to believe that many of the challenges facing INEC are best addressed through a well-thought-out coordinated application and deployment of IT.

"It is also our belief that only corporate bodies and individuals with requisite skills and expertise can successfully work with INEC in this regard," he said, recalling that in the past two years, NCS and INEC discussed on how best to deploy the capabilities of IT towards assisting the electoral process in the country.

Prof. Uwadia revealed that in July this year, during a courtesy visit to the current leadership under the chairmanship of Prof. Attahiru Jega, both parties reiterated the need to forge ahead in INEC’s efforts at using IT to deliver credible elections in 2011.

"It was also agreed at that meeting that an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) should be executed to serve as basis for further relationship," he declared in addition to four implementation committees set up to pave the way.

He lamented that while NCS was awaiting INEC’s assent to the MOU, earlier set to the chairman, a number of activities took place in quick succession.

These, he listed to include the "Appointment of an ICT Consultant / Adviser; Contracting three firms to deliver 132, 000 units Direct Data Capture Machines (DDCM) for the forthcoming compilation of fresh voters registers; and conducting of training for personnel who will use the DDCM."

And to their chagrin of NCS, the ICT Consultant/Adviser is not a registered member of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), in addition to the fact that two of the contracting firms, Messrs Avante International Technology incorporated and Haier electrical Appliances Corps Limited, were all not accredited by CPN.

The critical issue here, he said, is of computer professionalism as regulated under Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Act 49 of 1993, which is the law of the federation.

NCS, therefore, demanded INEC to reverse itself by ensuring that all personnel carrying out core IT Professional duties in the Commission ‘must’ be registered professionals as stipulated in Act 49 of 1993; That All persons to interface and operate the DDCM ‘must’ be trained and certified by professional institutions registered by CPN; That all contracting firms who are not registered with CPN should have their contracts revoked.

Equally, NCS demanded that subsequently, only registered members of the computer profession should be considered for jobs involving computing machinery, stressing that INEC redress these identified lapses within one week or face legal action for non-conformity with the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as stipulated in Act 49 of 1993.

“We request INEC to be transparent and fully unfold its strategies for deploying IT for the entire electoral process so that professionals could offer advice where necessary," NCS concluded.

ITRealms Online recalls that specifically, NCS and INEC had held a retreat in Asaba, Delta State from November 13 through 16 in 2008, with a follow-up in Kaduna, Kaduna State between June 30 and July 2, 2009 to promote electronic voting through consensus building by involving major stakeholders in order to sensitize the Nigerian public on the need for the adoption of electronic voting in future elections.

However, the essence of this engagement, NCS said, has been to ensure that INEC is well guided in deploying IT to the electoral process so that ultimately, the results of future elections in Nigeria are seen to be accurate and truly reflect the wishes of the electorates.

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