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Inec, NCS Lay Blueprint for e-Voting in 2011

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) and the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) have joined forces to computerize voting in Nigeria, which would give boost to democracy.

Both organizations had in November last year, held a retreat to brainstorm and fashion out an effective e-voting system that would allow for improved casting of vote and effective collation of election results, to put an end to unsavoury incidents witnessed in recent elections.

Prof. Charles Uwadia, president of NCS, who read the communiqué from the joint retreat between Inec and NCS, commended the electoral body for its commitment to improving the nation’s electoral process through ICT, which would by extension improve the well being of the citizens.

The retreat, he said, was held to examine the entire gamut of the electoral process and determine the role ICT can play, and then bring that to fruition.

Uwadia disclosed that at the end of the retreat, it was resolved that such problems as mass thumb printing of ballot papers, ballot stuffing, ballot box hijack, impersonation of voters, errors due to manual collation of results, multiple registration, among others associated with the current voting system; can be overcome with e-voting system.

According to him, “the retreat recognized that Inec has an existing communication backbone based on satellite communication technology, which network consists of a satellite gateway (control center), located at the Inec headquarters and terminals installed at remote locations (Inec state offices and all the local government areas of the federation).”

But he said some of the terminals at the remote locations had been vandalized, and so the retreat recommends the replacement of the redundant/inactive terminals with portable/mobile terminals and the deployment of additional terminals during periods of elections.

He said that it was recognized that the cost of the space segment on the network has huge financial implications, hence the retreat recommends that the electoral body should subscribe to the size of the space segment needed for its operational purposes during non-election years while the requirement should be scaled up during election year to meet the demands for the election results collation and dissemination.

Prof. Maurice Iwu, Inec chairman, represented by Engr. Emmanuel Akem, Inec’s director of ICT, reiterated that Inec and NCS’ partnership is geared towards harnessing the goods of ICT in the electoral process, adding that the Commission had done a lot in deploying ICT but needs to improve on what has been achieved.

The retreat recommends that Inec should explore the use of the GSM¬-Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and General Pack Radio Service (GPRS) technologies to complement the existing light weight encrypted secure file socket transmission for election result transmission and collation.

It also recommends that when the systems for e-collation and e-dissemination of election results are fully implemented, the election results in Nigeria should under normal circumstances be published within the period of six hours after closing election polls in every part of the country.

The retreat identified machine failure, vote flipping, possibility of inaccurate transmission of election results, usability problems, as challenges associated with electronic voting system; while noting that these can be overcome with contemporary technologies.

It noted that electronic voting system offers the best available option to prevent election manipulation and to assure the integrity and sanctity of each vote that is cast, thereby recommending a system based on consensus protocol which will allow for three confirmatory evidences/witnesses/channels for each vote cast.

While recommending the distributed encryption technique for purposes of secured data transmission, the retreat re-emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive and accurate registered voters’ database – a critical national asset which must be well secured to provide the necessary platform for a reliable electoral system. This, the Inec needs to do in partnership with other relevant government agencies such as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigerian Immigration Service, among others.

The retreat observed that the level of skilled IT professionals in Inec needs to be enhanced through continuous training, and that Management and personnel of the Commission need requisite technology training to ensure smooth electoral process.

It recognized the need for Inec to strategically embark on programmes aimed at ensuring that the electorate and the entire public believe in its systems, processes and procedures.

The retreat, according to Prof. Uwadia, recommends that any e-voting machine that Inec might consider for deployment for the electoral process in Nigeria must possess the ability to capture at least 3-forms of confirmatory evidence for each vote cast, interface for real-time/wireless transmission of data, facility for accurate authentication of voters’ information, facility that allows the blind and visually impaired to cast votes unassisted.

Others include that the equipment battery life must last for a minimum of ten hours, must be fool-proof, tamper-proof and weather-proof to perform under any condition, have provision for verifiable audit trail; have provision that allows voters to confirm that their votes have been recorded as cast, voice prompt that could be customized in any Nigerian dialect, provision for automatic and periodic uploading of election results while voting is in progress.

Asked if the country is going to witness proper e-voting in the 2011 presidential elections, Engr. Akem said that would depend on how soon the resolutions at the retreat would be implemented, while stressing on the need for the amendment of the Evidence Act by the National Assembly to accommodate e-voting

 

 

 


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MTN Launches ‘Visitor SIM’, Designed for Guests Coming into the Country

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MTN Nigeria has announced the introduction of its new Visitor SIM specially designed for guests travelling into the country.

The Visitor SIM comes pre-loaded with an appealing package that includes local and international call and data bundles.

This package will enable people visiting from other countries to stay connected with their friends, family and business associates on MTN’s super-fast network.

MTN VisitorSIMs are easy for inbound international visitors to acquire, activate and use, in addition to which they offer far better value than any roaming tariff.

Not available from any other operator, the service is poised to deliver convenience and the best-in-class customer experience in line with MTN’s brand promise.

According to Adekunle Adebiyi, chief sales and distribution Officer, MTN Nigeria, “The new Visitor SIMs will ensure that before setting foot outside the airport, people visiting Nigeria can plug in, reconnect – to loved ones, associates, tools and information, and begin sharing their remarkable experiences, with no concern about roaming charges.”

 

MTN Visitor SIMs are available in the arrival halls of international airports and other ports of entry.

They are valid for 14 days, which can be extended up to 30 days via MTN’s self-service menus or USSD.


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Nigeria COVID-19 Response: UNICEF, IHS Nigeria Collaborate to Contribute Medical Supplies

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) received the delivery of 115,800 COVID-19 test kits to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. These supplies were funded by IHS Nigeria, the Nigerian subsidiary of IHS Towers.

Testing remains the mainstay of the response led by the Presidential Task Force and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the first step towards diagnosing the infection. Tests enable health officials to understand the COVID-19 status of an individual and link that person to care, support and treatment while contributing to the protection of families and communities.

“Testing remains a core strategy of Nigeria’s response to COVID-19. This is critical for understanding the burden of the disease on our population and targeting our response activities accordingly. The primary goal of the Nigerian Government is to control the spread of this disease.

“This donation from IHS Nigeria through UNICEF will contribute to the national stockpile of test kits managed by NCDC, and support efforts of the growing network of accredited laboratories across the country for the testing of COVID-19. We are grateful for the continued support from UNICEF, IHS Towers and other partners.” said Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC.

IHS Towers has been a strong and continuing partner of UNICEF. At the onset of the coronavirus in Nigeria in late February, IHS Nigeria provided funding to UNICEF to urgently procure essential supplies and equipment with which UNICEF supported the Government of Nigeria in its COVID-19 response.

“UNICEF is deeply appreciative of IHS Towers’ commitment to being a partner in UNICEF’s work in Nigeria. Once more, IHS has shown great generosity in supporting UNICEF’s ongoing efforts to work closely with the Government of Nigeria in the fight against COVID-19.

“I am very delighted to receive this huge contribution from IHS Towers, the benefit of which will reach many more children and their families“, said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Country Representative.

“We are proud to have played an important role in supporting the Government and our communities where we operate to provide crucial tools needed to fight this pandemic. We understand this virus is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but are confident that with our support, and that of our other private sector colleagues, we are helping to manage and mitigate the impact of the virus in our country” said Mohamad Darwish, Chief Executive Officer of IHS Nigeria.

This recent support of essential tests makes IHS Towers the biggest private sector donor for UNICEF Nigeria’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Coca-Cola, Red Cross Society Expand Fight Against COVID-19 In Nigeria

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In a bid to support the fight against the Coronavirus disease, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) along with its national society Nigerian Red Cross (NRC) has started the distribution of PPEs and risk communications efforts to the tune of N228 Million to support its COVID-19 interventions in Nigeria.

 

This is part of The Coca-Cola Foundation’s $2.5million grant to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the COVID-19 pandemic within the West and Central Africa sub-regions.

The grant, which leverages the long-standing partnership between The Coca-Cola Company and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), seeks to support national efforts in the fight against the Coronavirus disease through the provision of essential medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and risk communications to impacted communities, healthcare personnel on the frontlines and treatment centres across the country.

 

Speaking on the donation, Yebeltal Getachew, managing director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, explained, “The Coca-Cola System (Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nigeria Bottling Company and Chi Limited) remains committed to providing support to the communities we serve during these challenging times.

 

“By providing healthcare workers with much-needed PPEs, we are confident that this will go a long way in ensuring their safety as they remain on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.

 

“Coca-Cola is proud to support the Red Cross as we deliver on our purpose of making a difference across the world”. 

 

Medical supplies being donated comprise N95 respirators, surgical masks, examination gloves, face shields, medical gowns, no-touch thermometers, disposable aprons, heavy-duty rubber gloves, rubber boots, basic masks, disposable gloves, and hand sanitizers.

 

Expressing his gratitude for the donation, Abubakar Kende, secretary-general for the Nigerian Red Cross Society explained, “We have identified the facilities in urgent need of these PPEs in consultation with NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health and will subsequently be distributed to these centres.

 

“This will ensure that treatment centres across the country are properly equipped with necessary PPEs as we continue to fight the disease”. 

IFRC seeks to directly impact the lives of over 1.4 million people in Nigeria and across other countries in West and Central Africa under this partnership. For over a century, The Coca-Cola Company and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have sustained a rewarding partnership that has seen the rehabilitation and preservation of human lives across the world through the delivery of humanitarian aid and emergency response to communities affected by disasters.

 

 

 


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