" ITREALMS: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Goodbye fuel: Car running on air, water debuts

An Israeli firm, Phinergy, has created a technology that uses metal, air and water to power a vehicle, reports ITRealms.

Metal-air technology, ITRealms gathered, has been at the forefront of energy research for years, due to its enormous energy potential, thus Phinergy's technological breakthroughs allow it to efficiently utilize this potential for various applications, outperforming conventional batteries.Since 2008, 
Phinergy, benefiting from more than a decade of academic research at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, has been successfully developing this technology by utilizing the energy stored in metal.

Phinergy’s battery creates energy by combining aluminum and ambient air with water, just as the company experts explained that the difference between this process and other electric-powered vehicles is comparable to the difference between a human scuba diver who must carry his oxygen in a balloon on his back, and a fish, which simply utilizes the oxygen contained in water by breathing through its gills. Due to the unique technology, the battery is immune to CO2-related problems, which, according to Phinergy, has been the leading cause of metal-air battery failure in the past.

One of the most attractive aspects of this technology is that instead of having to refuel with gasoline every several hundred miles, or having to recharge or exchange a battery, the only necessary ingredient for refueling is water – a resource that is widely available, giving these cars a range that is virtually unlimited and making them very cost-efficient.

Okoli Vincent/GEE

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Oil Price fall to $49pb as Iraq raises crude export

Following an increase in Iraq’s crude exports, oil prices fell to $49 per barrel on Monday, ahead of the meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), scheduled for Thursday, June 2, ITRealms reports.

Oil prices are expected to edge further downward as Canadian production is set to start after huge wild fires. Attention is therefore turned to the OPEC meeting in Vienna on Thursday, which is aimed at reaching an agreement over production freeze in an effort to prop up oil prices, though most analysts do not expect any changes in the group’s production.

According to Commerzbank analysts, “We do not expect any (OPEC) agreement on a specific production target to be achieved. Iraq plans to discuss freezing oil production, but Iran and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to be ready to take any such step.”

ITRealms gathered that a spike in tensions between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran had ruined prospects of reaching a production freeze agreement at the last meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC which held in Doha, Qatar.About 18 OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, including Russia, met in the Qatari capital of Doha to rubber-stamp a deal to freeze output at January levels until October 2016, but the meeting was postponed to June 2, after OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, told participants it wanted all OPEC members, including Iran, to take part in the freeze, but Iran had refused this offer, seeking to regain market share after the lifting of US sanctions against it in January this year.

Okoli Vincent/GEE

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INEC over-burden by 700 court cases – Prof. Mahmood

The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has revealed that the Commission is burdened with over 700 court cases arising from numerous litigations on conducted elections, reports ITRealms.

The chairman, who was speaking at the weekend at a retreat hosted by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, disclosed that INEC on weekly basis have to attend to at an average of 12 cases.

In doing this, he said, INEC must engage lawyers and this is a burden on the Commission.
Prof. Mahmood also noted that INEC’s case is not helped by the fact that it is always joined in suits or petitions arising from elections for which it has to pay lawyers to represent the Commission in court. According to the chief electoral umpire, apart from the over 700 court cases it has had to appear in, the Commission has been dragged to court a whopping 12 times in the past one week.

He reiterated the Commission’s commitment to the conduct of credible elections, saying that the journey to electronic voting is a gradual one which will undoubtedly pave the needed way in strengthening the nation’s democracy.

The retreat, which was supported by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), also featured a review of current electoral laws in Nigeria and a status report on amendment bills before the committee.

Participants led by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara also has Chairman, Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari represented by Senator Abu Gumel; Chairperson of the House Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter, Hon. Mrs. Aisha Dukku as well as other distinguished members of the committee, equally have the chairman of Zinox Technology Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh as a keynote speaker.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Zinox boss tells Reps: Nigeria is ripe for e-Voting

The Executive Chairman, Zinox Group, Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) conglomerate, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh has asserted that Nigeria is ripe for electronic voting (e-Voting), reports ITRealms.

Ekeh in a keynote address to the retreat organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter last Friday, at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, as part of programme to mark 17th Democracy Day anniversary, insisting that adopt of e-Voting would deepen democratic culture during elections.

The retreat led by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara also has Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu; Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari represented by Senator Abu Gumel; Chairperson of the House Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matter, Hon. Mrs. Aisha Dukku as well as other distinguished members of the committee.

Ekeh, also disclosed that with the rapid pace of global technological advancements, Nigeria stands to reap a lot of benefits from the deployment of e-voting, stressing that the initiative will go a long way in reducing litigations and strengthening the faith of Nigerians in the electoral process.

In his paper entitled “New thoughts, ideas and innovations on use of ICT in elections” Ekeh affirmed that the gains recorded with the use of the card readers in the 2015 general elections goes a long way to show that with the adoption of e-voting, the country will take a huge leap towards sound democratic governance.

“In your life, there must be a little bit of disruption for you to move forward. The country is ripe for transition to electronic voting. A lot of us are in this business because technology does not lie – it’s either you are right or you are wrong. With the use of the card readers in the last general elections, we saw a significant reduction in electoral fraud and other electoral malpractices. However, a few challenges were also encountered as no technology can be said to be 100 per cent perfect,” Ekeh said.

The Zinox boss equally said that a country cannot move forward where the elected leaders who take decisions are not the choice of the people.

“It’s like running a company and you are a shareholder in that company. If your son is not qualified to lead, you will be destroying that company by manipulating the system to favour that son. So, this was the essence of our submission to INEC on the adoption of electronic voting – that things should be done professionally with your support and that of the entire nation,” he canvassed.

Today, he pointed out, there are about 774 local governments in the country and each one with about 10,800 polling units, some of which are in the riverine areas, stressing that even if INEC purchases 1,000 vehicles, it will still find it difficult logistics-wise to cover all the areas and this leaves the process open to manipulation by emergency contractors as INEC lacks the requisite man-power.

“If finally adopted and implemented, electronic voting will ensure that you now have reasonable infrastructure to handle this. While you have the mobile units and active screens at the polling units, the database of registrants or eligible voters is sitting at the national database of INEC. Once a voter’s number is entered at the polling unit, it pulls up the details of the voter from the list of registered voters,” he said.

For him, verification will no longer be a problem and during voting, once a voter clicks on the icon of a chosen party, the same information hits the INEC back-end.

“This will go a long way in reducing litigations as INEC can provide verifiable evidence in court,” Ekeh advised, emphasizing that with this technology in place, voters will no longer have to travel back to their wards to cast their votes.

INEC on the other hand, he said, could also monitor the entire process easily as each electronic voting device is equipped with a tracker and could be configured to shut down immediately voting ends.

Tracing the country’s march and transition towards electronic voting, the digital ICT entrepreneur examined the benefits and challenges of the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines used during the 2007 elections and the painstaking process which eventually culminated in the use of the card readers for the 2015 general elections.

“When Prof. Jega came on board, a decision was made to do a proper data capturing of eligible voters. We started the process and I must thank the National Assembly as they supported us despite being a local company. We designed the technology and ended up working for everybody in deploying the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines nationwide including the 600 servers. These helped promote the concept of one man, one voter card, streamlined the electoral process and also reduced multiple registration, ineligible and under-age registrants – we did a lot of these from the back-end. As a result, we were able to deliver a strong database which reduced arguments and other related issues,” he said.

It is from this point, Ekeh said, Nigeria moved to the use of card readers, underscoring the fact that back then, there were calls for proposals for electronic voting which the National Assembly to a large extent did not consider as the country was seen as not ripe to embrace the technology then, stressing that most of the issues encountered with the card readers had to do with the National Assembly and the budget for INEC as well as the late release of funds after election dates had been set, among other disruptions.

“So, INEC had no time to conduct a mock election using the card readers. I had recommended a regional mock then as this would have helped smoothen the process,” he said, pleading with the National Assembly to support INEC in its effort to adopt electronic voting.

“Until we embrace this disruption, the nation will not move forward in this regard because the government is the decider of the future of the people. If you appoint a CEO who cannot read a balance sheet, it’s impossible for that company to grow. This is the crisis the country is currently facing in the knowledge business,” he submitted.

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Sokoto State to employ 10,000 qualified teachers– Tambuwal

The Sokoto State Government is set to employ no fewer than 10,000 qualified teachers, says Gov. Aminu Tambuwal, ITRealms reports.

The Governor, who made this disclosure on Monday at a media chat organized to mark the 2016 Democracy Day in Sokoto, said it was part of the recommendations in a report of a technical committee he had earlier set up to advise the government on the educational sector, headed by the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Usman Dan Fodio University, Prof, Riskuwa Shehu.

Tambuwal said, “according to the committee’s report, we are short of no fewer than 10,000 qualified teachers in the state.”

Gov. Tambuwal also said that the state will cover the training and retraining of teachers in line with the global trend of making education a priority.

Stressing that the state of emergency on education already declared in the state would remain until the government achieved the desired standard. He then called on the people of the state to always complement the efforts of the government in funding education at all levels.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)/GEE

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Edo Council Secretariat destroyed by fire

The Esan north-east local government area secretariat in Edo State, was consumed by fire in the late hours of Friday, ITRealms reports.

This, ITRealms gathered, happened just few hours after 10 councilors passed a vote of no confidence on the chairman, Hon. Sam Oboh.

Also, ITRealms gathered that Mr. Oboh was said to have ignored numerous invitations by the lawmakers to appear before them to explain alleged financial recklessness and flagrant abuse of due process in the running of the secretariat. Amongst the chairman’s alleged offences included collection of gratuity while still in office, collection of internally generated revenue (IGR) up front to 2020, diversion of compensation meant for traders whose shops were burnt and the collection of over-draft from banks without legislative approval.

A signed resolution by the entire members of the house dated May 26, 2016, with ref No: ENE/C/168 addressed to the executive chairman reads in part:“It would be recalled that the house has been watching your activities for some time now and how you have continually manipulated the internally generated revenue of the council for your personal aggrandizement and as a result hereby passes a vote of no confidence on you.”

Okoli Vincent/Leadership/GEE

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