" ITREALMS: NCS, CPN at war with INEC over DDC machines

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

NCS, CPN at war with INEC over DDC machines

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) with the backing of the computer regulatory agency in the country, the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) may be spoiling for war with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the deployment of Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines and its attendant hiccups during the on-going voters’ registration exercise without recourse to it.

NCS blamed these hiccups on INEC’s leadership under Prof. Atahiru Jega, for ignoring the computer body and regulatory organ, preparatory to the deployment of the DDC machines till date.

They insisted that INEC’s hiring of non-professional as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) consultant cum advisor was at the root of the DDC machine challenges.

Giving insight to the position of NCS, its president, Prof. Charles Uwadia, said that INEC has violated the CPN Act 49 of 1993.

Prof. Uwadia listed the sins of INEC as far as the current deployment of Information Technology (IT) and DDC machines particularly to include the appointment of an ICT consultant and adviser; contracting three firms to deliver 132, 000 units of DDC machines for the forthcoming compilation of fresh voters’ registers without any recourse to the body and regulatory organ, CPN.

In addition, the computer society is against the fact that INEC conducted training for its supposed ad-hoc personnel who were not certified by either NCS or CPN via unknown and non-certified entity.

He recalled that on Friday, November 19, 2010, NCS had initially expressed its concern over the manner INEC was carrying on without recourse to the professionals; NCS and CPN

“We intimated you about our concern in the way and manner INEC was going about the very important task of applying IT for the 2011 elections,” he lamented, adding that they observed that the ICT Consultant cum Adviser engaged by INEC’s chairman is not a registered member of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN).

“We had also observed that two of the contracting firms: Avante International Technology Incorporated and Haier Electrical Appliances Corps Limited are not registered with the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN),” NCS president decried.

NCS further stated that with the on-going, it is evident to IT professionals in the country that INEC has taken a stand to undermine the position and practice of professionals under Jega’s leadership.

“With these acts, it was clear to us that INEC had downgraded the critical issue of Computer Professionalism as regulated under Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Act 49 of 1993,” they noted.

NCS reiterated its demands that all personnel carrying out core IT professional duties in the Commission should as matter of urgency be registered professionals as stipulated in Act 49 of 1993.

“That all persons to interface and operate the DDC machines 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 and that subsequently, only registered members of the Computer Profession should be considered for jobs involving computing machinery.”

The computer society additionally said that INEC should redress the identified lapses within one week; failing which legal action may be instituted by NCS against the Commission.

Just as NCS requested INEC to be transparent and fully unfold its strategies for deploying IT for the entire electoral process so that professionals could offer relevant advice where vital.

“We have since consulted our lawyers on the threat of legal action, and you will be duly informed on the next step,” he said, emphasising that events of the last couple of days have proved NCS’ fears and concern right.

“As you are aware, INEC commenced voters registration nationwide on Saturday 15 January, 2011; the exercise is expected to last for 2 weeks but has been extended by one week. As Nigerians, we are all living witnesses to the difficulties and challenges many Nigerians are having in participating in the exercise,” NCS boss said.

From the feedback received by NCS, mostly from members at various parts of the county the challenges and difficulties related to the DDC machines include “non-functioning fingerprint scanners, low sensitivity of fingerprint scanners, breakdown of the machines due to overheating, low level of battery backup, inability of INEC officials to properly use the machines or conduct basic troubleshooting in situations where the machines do not work.

Though, NCS blamed the bulk of the challenges on software, saying that even troubleshooting which could be carried out by certified computer professionals became a challenge, noting that lack of adequate training was a hindrance.

“We understand one of the contractors has not fully delivered its quota,” he lamented and called for adequate printer cartridges.

Most of these challenges, NCS said, could be categorized into hardware and software as well as operational.

“These are problems which we believe would have been largely prevented by proper specification of the hardware and software; appropriate testing and certification of the systems; adequate and appropriate training of personnel; and proper contingency and backup arrangement,” Prof. Uwadia said.

This situation, NCS believes, would have been mitigated if certified IT professionals have been fully involved in the planning and implementation of the whole exercise.

He emphasised that the voters’ registration exercise is fully situated within the IT domain and ought to have been treated as such.

“Unfortunately this has not been so. INEC, under the leadership of Prof. Atahiru Jega, has so far kept IT professional bodies; NCS and CPN, at bay for reasons best known to it,” the president submitted.

NCS is the acclaimed umbrella organization of all Information Technology professionals, interest groups and stakeholders in Nigeria.

Established in 1978 as the Computer Association of Nigeria, NCS is the national platform for the advancement of computer science and information technology and has membership across some Registered Interest Groups (RIG) including Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), and National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS).

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