Air Force Begins Airlift Of Electoral Materials
Air Force begins airlift of electoral materials.
- Failing card readers raise fresh concern.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the airlift of electoral materials for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the country for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
A statement yesterday from Air force spokesperson Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola said the airlift which started on 11 February, includes day and night missions, during which both sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials were conveyed in batches.
The NAF C-130 Hercules aircraft will ferry the materials from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja to various airports across the country.
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He said the materials were duly delivered by the C-130H aircraft crew to teams of INEC and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) officials together with security personnel waiting at the various airports.
He noted that the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, during his meeting with Air Officers Commanding (AOCs) and NAF Field Commanders on 1 February 2019, had expressed the readiness of the NAF to avail INEC its transport aircraft to enable expeditious movement of electoral materials, as done in the past.
Also, With just three days separating Nigerians and the 2019 general elections, concerns are mounting over the efficiency of the system, especially the use of card readers.
Nigerians, who spoke with news reporters on the matter, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to ensure seamless electioneering processes.
Indeed, in some of the previous elections across the country, card readers malfunctioned in many polling units, a situation that triggered undue delay in the accreditation process. The hitches ranged from rejection of permanent voters card (PVC), by the card readers, inability to capture the biometrics from finger tips, irregular capturing and fast battery drainage, among others.
Some previous failures of card readers to elections In Nigeria
Recall that three voter card readers failed to read former President Goodluck Jonathan’s biometrics and accredit him for voting at the Otazi playground polling centre in his home town, Otueke, Bayelsa State, during the 2015 elections.
President Jonathan arrived the Polling Unit 13 at about 9. 20 a.m for the election on that day, but could not be accredited as at 10 a.m. as three different card readers failed to capture his biometrics.
The same scenario also played out at the Ekiti Governorship election of 2018, where the Peoples Democratic Party flagbearer, Prof. Olusola Eleka, and wife’s voters’ card were not read by the card reader.
The card reader also failed to read the PVC of the wife of the then All Progressives Congress governorship candidate’s wife in Ekiti, Erelu Bisi, until after some technical magics were done.
Card readers also malfunctioned in some areas during the Osun State governorship election.
Though, later rectified, the device malfunctioned in Ife and Oriade, among other places and that slowed the process.
In terms of guaranteeing the success of the election, the Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub (DSHuB), Chris Uwaje, said the probability of the smoothness of a digital electioneering process depends on many factors based on the model adopted in many countries.
Uwaje noted that the card reader is just about 15 per cent to 18 per cent of the process. “For example, since the INEC upgraded card reader is a smart digital device, it means that it requires abundant broadband transmission bandwidth interface to deliver effectively, but as per the available records, our National Broadband penetration is about 30 per cent, which means that the whole country is not covered and other means would be required to argument the deficit.”
INEC’s Assurance In 2019 Electin
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has assured of improved functionality of the cardd readers.
Speaking in Abuja, Prof. Yakubu noted that the problem with card readers witnessed in past elections were not technical but with the training of the ad hoc staff.
But Prof Yakubu assured Nigerians that steps had been taken to check the problems with handling of the machine. We have taken steps to improve the process of the smart card readers and we will continue to do so.
‘’The commission assures Nigerians that the smart card reader has become an integral part of the electoral process and will be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 general elections,” he said.