Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will decide on the use of solar powered electronic voting machine device during the 2019 general elections, the Federal Government said on Tuesday.
Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, that though INEC was impressed about the e-voting device developed the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), one of its agencies, saying that the final decision rest on INEC.
Onu made this known at a press conference in Abuja, stressing that the success of the Science, Technology and Innovation Expo held last year has spurred the ministry to begin preparation in earnest for the 2018 edition holding from 5th to 9th of March at the Eagles square in Abuja.
The minister also revealed that the federal government is in discussion with some countries to work towards having constellation of satellites.
“What that means is that instead of one country having just one satellite, then many countries can have so many satellites that do so many things; then you pull those resources together, pull that data and make the information available to all the participating countries. That way, you are going to share cost and also share data and it’s more cost effective. So, I think we are moving with resources
“We have very serious constraints in terms of funding but we are also working on how we can have funding from research and innovation in the country not just within the ministry alone from outside the budget which is what all the countries that have done very well have done,” Onu said.
Asked about the impression of INEC about the device and if it would be used during the 2019 general elections, Onu stated: “We went to INEC, they were very impressed, we do not allow media for obvious reasons. A committee was set up made up of staff of INEC and that of the ministry. That committee has been working, it’s being quite slow for certain reasons I didn’t want to say here.
“But we are hoping they would conclude their work. But in terms of the technical aspect of that solution, that is, the solar powered electronic voting solution, I think everybody is happy with it. When we took it to the National Economic Council, the governors were there… it is one of the most sophisticated voting solution we have in the world.
“Reason being that many of the problems we have with our election in Nigeria, other countries don’t have that.I don’t know of countries where people snatch ballot papers, where people stay in their homes and write results. All these things you can’t do them through this electronic solution, you can’t even vote twice, you can’t even register twice, once you go it will reject it and every measure was taking to see how hacking can be eliminated.
“It also has capacity to print out results so that if somebody is going to a tribunal or to court, the person can have evidence. The results are online at the real time. But I can say when the solution can be used whether 2019 or 2023, that will be a decision that INEC will take. What is good is that our law now allows electronic voting. You know before the law did not allow it, no matter how good such a system is it cannot be used, but that will be the decision of INEC,” Onu stressed.