Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, deputy Senate President, said the National Assembly was working towards amending the Electoral Act to allow for the use of electronic voting in the country.
Ekweremadu made this known in Abuja at the opening of a three-day International Conference on “Promoting Credible Election in Nigeria: Opportunities and Challenges in Information and Communications Technology”.’
The conference was organised by the UNDP’s Democratic Governance for Development in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission.’
“In the present amendment to the Electoral Act, we seek to delete Section 52, which bars the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from using electronic voting.
“This is to allow the Commission use its discretion to apply electronic voting at any time it deems it appropriate,” he said.
Ekweremadu said the Electoral Act Amendment Bill had passed the first reading in the Senate and would be one of the major focus of legislative attention once the 2014 National Budget was passed.
He expressed willingness of NASS to support the election management body to deliver credible and transparent elections in 2015.
“The National Assembly is committed to matching this desire for increased ICT role in our election management and electoral process with the requisite appropriation and law reforms.
“ICT has positively impacted all areas of electoral process such as voter registration, education, electioneering campaign, data acquisition, transmission, voting, vote counting; election monitoring, election security the world over; and Nigeria cannot be an exception,” he said.
He said in spite of fears, mutual suspicion among the political elite and various technical challenges, Nigeria was positively disposed to ensuring that ICT plays greater role in every aspect of its electoral process.
Ekweremadu, however, advised INEC to be cautious in deploying ICT in the nation’s election process.
“The infusion of ICT into any sensitive aspect of our election management system in particular must be very strategic, tested and gradual. This must go with adequate mobilisation, education, and consensus building to make the elections smoother, more transparent, efficient, participatory, freer, fairer, and indeed more credible. Life is in endless evolution, and democracy is not an exception in mankind’s efforts towards finding new, faster, and better ways of getting things done,” Ekweremadu said.
Prof. Attahiru Jega, chairman of INEC, said Information Communication Technology was important in ensuring accurate voter’s registration and voter education.
Jega, represented by Dr Nuru Yakubu, INEC’s national commissioner, stressed that accurate voter register was a prerequisite for conducting free, fair, credible and transparent elections in the country.
He noted that the commission had embraced ICT since 2011 to enhance the integrity of elections.
Jega, however, said that the use of ICT in election was very expensive for developing countries like Nigeria.
The Director General, National Orientation Agency, Mr Mike Omeri, advised INEC to provide a level playing ground for political parties and contestants during the 2015 election.
Omeri urged political parties to introduce electronic method of registering their members with a view to promoting internal party democracy.
NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution
Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned telecom consumers to desist from using illegal GSM boosters.
The commission also said that anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
GSM boosters are devices that transmit and receive telecommunications signals and can therefore interfere with other radio frequency equipment.
Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said in a notice published on NCC website, that only licensed network operators are allowed to use GSM boosters.
The booster, also known as amplifier or repeater is made up of three main elements – exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna.
They form a wireless system to boost cellular reception
“Members of the public should note that, willful interference with any wireless telegraphy is an offence under Section 16 of the Telegraphy Act, 2004,”it said
The agency said it will not condone any flagrant breach of this law.
It has also enforced measures to prosecute offenders.
Accordingly, monitoring mechanisms have been put in place and anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
“Any member of the public with useful information regarding the illegal use of GSM Boosters should contact the Commission on 09-4617000/7351 or send an email to [email protected],” the notice said.
“Individuals desirous of using GSM Boosters should note that they can only do so in conjunction with licensed network operators,” it added.
Tizeti announced that it selected Nokia’s Fastmile Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to enable usprovide superior internet services to over 1 Million subscribers in Port Harcourt, Edo and Ogun in Nigeria.
Tizeti will deploy Nokia’s AirScale Base Station TDD-LTE and FastmileFixed Wireless Access (FWA) gatewaysto deliver premium internet and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to Residential, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The solution will also enable Tizeti’sto deliver a more robust, high-speedinternet service to subscribers and the flexibility to seamlessly evolve to 5G Fixed Wireless Access when needed.
Nokia’s FWA solution enables Tizeti to fast-track broadband access and provide a best-in-class broadband experience to its subscribers.
Nokia’sAirScale Base Stations ensure high-quality connectivity and coverage and enablesTizeti to evolve the network in line with customer demand.
Nokia’sFastmilegateways connect wirelessly to the existing network to createa fastbroadband connection and enhanced Wi-Fi experience in the home.
The Nokia Network Services Platform will help Tizeti to simplify operations and quickly respond to changing market demands.
Kendall Ananyi, Tizeti, said:“We are committed to providing the best-in-class network experience to our subscribers. We are confident that Nokia’s proven technology and expertise will help us differentiate our services based on quality. This a crucial project for us as it introduces LTE in our networks and allows us to bring new and innovative services to our subscribers.”
Eniola Balogun, Nokia, said:“We are thrilled to work with Tizeti on the initiative to upgrade their network to bring the latest products and services to its subscribers. Nokia Fastmile will help Tizeti to cost-effectively enhance the customer experience.
The project will also enable them to delight their subscribers by providing more reliable data services.
On the other hand, Tizeti will benefit by adding new revenue streams.”
Risk Assets Push Higher on Vaccine Hopes; Eyes on the Fed
By Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM,
After two consecutive weeks of back-to-back declines, global stocks kicked off Monday with solid gains amid a surge in M&A activity and positive signs towards vaccine developments. Currency markets were little changed ahead of a busy week of monetary policy announcements, while Oil and Gold ticked slightly higher.
The two big deals announced over the weekend were Softbank’s plan to sell chipmaker ARM to Nvidia for more than $40 billion and Gilead Sciences to acquire Immunomedics for a price tag of $21 billion. Meanwhile, on the vaccine front, AstraZeneca resumed its phase-3 trial on Covid-19 after being suspended last week following a neurological illness developed in one participant, and Pfizer announced that its vaccine could be distributed before year-end if found safe and effective.
Central Banks will take centre stage this week with the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan all due to announce policy decisions. Out of the three meetings, the Fed is likely to be the most watched following its historic shift towards average inflation targeting. The big question remains how will the FOMC put this policy into action?
From what we know now, the Fed is set up to keep interest rates near zero for a long time, possibly for several years. Given the new framework, any spike in inflation won’t translate into immediate rate hikes as the Fed wants to compensate for the lost years when they have failed to hit the target. The dot plot will be the key guide for investors and traders alike. If inflation projections remain at 2% or below for the foreseeable future, this will solidify market expectations for a low rate environment for many years to come. That said, Jay Powell would still have to explain in more detail how the new framework will be translated into policy action.
In June’s economic projections, the Fed anticipated unemployment would be at 9.3% by year-end, but, in August, unemployment was well below that forecast at 8.4%. Many other economic data surprised to the upside during the June – August period in a clear sign that most economists were overly pessimistic towards the strength of the recovery. However, there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty given the latest surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide and the US, especially as we get closer into the winter season. A second wave will undoubtedly put the recovery at risk in the final quarter of the year and it will be interesting to see the Fed’s view on that issue.
As for the market selloff over the past two weeks, the Fed isn’t likely to show any signs of concern. In fact, policymakers should be satisfied with the pullback as the risk of a bubble in several assets has been growing due to the Fed’s extremely accommodative policies. Unless we see another 10 -15% drop, do not expect the Fed to intervene.
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