Emmanuel Akem, an engineer by training is director, information and communication technology (ICT), Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec).
Akem has over 15 years experience on software. He talks on the commissions operations and the growing desire on e – voting in the subsequent elections. Akem spoke to Christopher alu in Abuja.
INEC and e-Voting System
We were able to use some electronic means in the general elections conducted in 2007 to process and transmit results for the whole world to see.
We used computers to receive and arrange the results in a chronological order to make it quick, but the lawmakers are meant to change the law on voting; we cannot adopt the e-voting system now. So, unless they reverse the law on e-voting system, we cannot use the voting machine as an instrument of balloting in Nigeria.
Terrestrial Coverage during Elections
In the last elections we had live broadcast, though not similar to that of what took place in the U.S where they had all ICT facilities to reach out to the world. They are much more ready for e-voting and c-system display there. Their Internet communications work well, in fact, they have a channel that covers all political activities down to election results, displayed on electronic boards for the world to view.
We are yet to reach this stage but we are making efforts to draw closer. I believe by the next elections, we would come online with transmission gadgets for people in and around the world to view us.
We are also planning to have a channel that can be used for outreach purposes and other activities during elections, so that any controversy generated would be tackled amicably. This would include electronic boards that would project all activities on elections and display results, and a network that will ensure connectivity in the next elections, similar to what happened in America.
Political parties and contestants are allowed to do online campaigns if they have the capacity to do it. Inec cannot stop them, rather, we would use that to monitor and follow their activities provided they stick to our rules and regulations, and also do not use that to hurt the feelings of the people. Online campaign is very good. It gives a projection of a dynamic society that is ICT compliant. From the very beginning, it can hinder littering of the city with bill/posters on the wall. Electronic board can be strategically mounted in some parts of the cities, and a politician can use that for his e-campaign and e-transactions. It is one most efficient and effective means of modern technology communication that can help to achieve set objectives in present times.
We are seriously working on this very particular issue you have raised.
Inec wants to go the whole length this time to make sure that modern devices are used to detect those who snatch ballot boxes. This boils down to the use of modern technology facilities that would give the desired results. There are electronic voting machines just like I earlier said. If we are allowed to use them, nobody can snatch ballot boxes. Once you cast your vote, it captures your thumbprint on the dashboard and your vote is automatically counted. You cannot thumbprint twice because it will reject that command. There is also electronic the ballot box, where votes are cast and it is only the key numbers that are set, will open it. We have plans for these, but until the lawmakers reverse the law, we cannot use them here in Nigeria. The snatching of ballot boxes and thuggery are offences that Inec is seriously against. We must improve on our technology so that people will see the futility of snatching ballot boxes, although it involves a lot of capital, which the government alone cannot afford. So, it is the duty of the private sector with NGOs, concerned Civil Society groups, to go into partnership in order to assist in that direction, just like what happened in America recently.
We have a website and voter’s response centre as well as other IT means of reaching out to people. On how best we can answer questions and also be accessed, we are yet to go digital on that – whereby people from everywhere around the world can view us. But we are planning to do that in the subsequent elections.
One of the biggest challenges is to improve on the facilities to meet up to world standard during elections, in the areas of electronic transmission of results, e-voting systems, collation of these results. Another challenge is that of reversing the law by the National Assembly to enable my office work properly.
FG Launches Central Database for Stolen Asset Tracing
Federal government has launched a Central Database under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations (ARTM), 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2011 to assist in the fight against corruption.
Mr Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, at the launch in Abuja, said the database will ensure uniformity of process, access and information feeding to deepen transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets.
To ensure compliance, he said his office is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS.
“We will work together to establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Mrs Ugonna Ozurigbo, chairman, House Committee on Justice, said the regulation on Asset Tracing, Recovery and proper management of proceeds of crime was signed on October 24, 2019, and took effect from November 1, 2019, replaced the proceeds of Crime Regulation of 2012.
The new regulation titled Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets, approval and appointment of asset managers and operating and maintaining a database for the records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.
He said, the AGF’s office, under the new regulation, is also required to coordinate inter-agency investigations into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies whose law empowers them to undertake recoveries and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issued by the Nigeria courts and courts outside Nigeria.
Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, according to the Speaker, is a core value of good governance and its effective management will serve as a deterrent to would-be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices.
According to him, states resources must not be allowed to be stolen but if that happened by fraudulent individuals, efforts must be taken to trace the proceed, recover same and manage for the interest of the generality of the people.
“When the proceeds of crime are traced and recovered but again looted by government officials, I dare to say such act amounts to the crime of tertiary capacity and must be avoided.
“Assets not accounted for are assets lost; loss of assets undervalues the economic potential of a country and will negatively impact on the net worth of a country. Accordingly, Asset Tracing Recovery and Management is a panacea to rekindling of the value system of a nation,” the Speaker noted.
Konga Bulk Debuts Monday
Konga, Nigeria’s foremost ethical and innovative composite e-Commerce brand is set to unveil a revolutionary new solution – Konga Bulk – which the company says will represent the new normal for forward-thinking businesses and consumers in the Nigerian corporate space.
Equally important, Konga Bulk, the latest innovation from the e-Commerce giant, is set to go live on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Through this initiative, Konga is rolling out a mega platform which has been touted a potential game-changer, offering manufacturers, distributors, resellers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to take advantage of Konga’s world class assets including its secure regional warehouses, smart offices, cutting-edge technology, advanced logistics capabilities through an internally-owned subsidiary, Kxpress and its Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed payment platform known as KongaPay.
This is in addition to leveraging Konga’s e-Commerce engine and extensive marketing expertise in bringing their products and services to the consciousness of millions of Nigerians nationwide.
In other words, Konga is taking a huge burden off the shoulders of manufacturers and other business owners in Nigeria through this ambitious project.
By allocating physical office and warehouse spaces to partner businesses and placing its many other cutting-edge assets at their disposal, Konga is ushering many into the new normal by bringing succour to corporate entities, many of whom have been encumbered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Konga Bulk will play a very important role, bridging the gap to genuine products and services between manufacturers, distributors, resellers, bulk buyers and consumers.
Resellers and other bulk buyers can also take advantage of best prices available for genuine products exclusively through Konga Bulk.
Kalu Johnson, vice president, Strategic Business, said businesses who sign up on Konga Bulk have a lot to gain.
‘‘Konga Bulk is a very ambitious project which we have positioned as the new normal.
“It is a unique opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of the huge assets and real estate, both physical and virtual, available at Konga.
‘‘We have invested significantly and strategically in various areas of our operations.
“Today, Konga owns arguably the largest single warehouse space in Lagos in addition to other similar massive infrastructure in other parts of the country such as Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Abuja, Owerri and other locations.
‘‘As a manufacturer, distributor or business owner signed up on Konga Bulk, you no longer have to worry about owning your own office or warehouse space. Nor do you have to bother about the heavy investment in logistics, delivery, payment solution, technology, marketing or activations.
“You can rely on Konga’s world class competencies and assets in these areas.
‘‘Businesses must find a way to rebound from the difficulties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Konga Bulk, which is focused on ushering in the new normal, is one of the innovations we have come up with to provide a way out,’’ he concluded.
Konga Bulk goes live online at www.konga.com and offline in every Konga retail store nationwide on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Access Bank Reaffirms Support for An Innovative, Smart Lagos State
Mr. Herbert Wigwe, managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, has said that Access Bank Plc will not relent in supporting innovative programmes aimed at transforming Lagos into a 21st century State driven by technology innovations.
Wigwe spoke yesterday during the finals of the Lagos State Smart Meter Hackathon design held at the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters in Lagos.
An initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Hackathon is aimed at providing affordable electricity meters to the populace by facilitating the design and production of meters that will accelerate efforts towards achieving improvement in energy distribution, monitoring and prevention of revenue leakage.
Wigwe who was represented by Mr Ade Bajomo, executive director, IT & Operations at Access Bank, said that supporting the Hackathon once more reinforces the Bank’s commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of the society.
“Having Hackathon and innovative programmes like this, has always been part and parcel of our DNA in Access Bank. We are forever looking for new things to do to solve real problems in Africa and beyond; new things that would move the life of our people forward.
“We are always looking forward to doing things that would make more people financially independent, driving and enhancing the well-being of the entire society,” he said.
He noted that now the world is witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there are Africans working with the rest of the world and using technology to solve the problems of the people.
Wigwe stressed that Access Bank does not exclude the rest of the world when it comes to using technology innovations to address the problems of the people.
“That is why this Hackathon is very important because it’s our people solving our problems and leveraging global solutions to finding our answers to our own problems.
“And that is why at the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), which Access Bank is promoting, we want to have more innovators and innovations that will help in transforming our society for the better,” he said.
The Access Bank boss stated that to see this Hackathon come to light shows the commitment of the Lagos State Government to not only the project, but to the actualization of a smart Lagos, where electricity is accessible and affordable.
He pledged Access Bank’s continued support to the Lagos State Government’s efforts at building a smart state.
Mr. Olalere Odusote, convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon and the State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, said that there were very many talented people who applied for the Hackathon, noting that there were 65 submissions in all, out of which its panel of experts reduced the number to the five finalists that participated at the finals of the Hackathon.
“We had the hardware yesterday and we were very impressed with what we saw. We are expecting no less from the software side. We are going to get engaged, look at what they have to offer and then integrate it into our future.
“We are trying to solve our own problems by ourselves. This is just the start; it is not a one-off project. At the end of the event, we will take the product to our prototype mode; we will take the product to a commercial development process,” he said.
The Commissioner said they were not just doing the Hackathon for the sake of it but are looking for solutions that will contribute to making Lagos a 21st Century economy.
He thanked Access Bank for its generosity, support and partnership with the State government. He also thanked other partners for joining in the journey of making Lagos a great state.
Five contenders each emerged from both categories of the competition, and the two winners are expected to share the prize money of seven million naira.
Finalists were shortlisted after a transparent, rigorous and competitive process.
The Hackathon attracted 274 registrations or entries, 127 of which bid in hardware category, while 147 competed in software group.
The five software finalists for the Hackathon on Thursday were Magnitronics, Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon.
It would be recall that during the launch of the programme on July 30th, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu noted that the Smart Metre Hackathon Initiative marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the State Government’s plan towards improving access to electricity.
He said it aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the United Nations, targeted at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 was convened by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, curated by Eko Innovation Centre, and sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Egbin Power, and Ikeja Electric Distribution Company.
Other sponsors include Mojec International, Eko Electric Distribution Company, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company, ElSewedy Electric, Royal Power & Energy, Venture Garden Group, InfraCredit, and Axxela Limited.
They were supported by the Lagos State Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), Oracle, IBM, General Electric, Business Day and Accelerate TV.
The Grand Finale of the Hackathon holds on Friday, September 18, 2020 at Eko Innovation Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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