INEC chairman, Yakubu, tasks new National Commissioners on raising Commission’s bar

**Rates new voter accreditation device, BVAS high

By Ezeocha Nzeh

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, has described the newly sworn in National Commissioners as sound academicians who have possessed rich credentials to help raise the bar of INEC.
President Buhari had on Wednesday sworn in three new National Commissioners to fill the vacancy left by those who have completed their tenures at the commission.

Speaking while inaugurating the new National Commissioners, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu cautioned them, as well as the new Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) against indulging in actions and activities that could bring the electoral system to disrepute.

The new National Commissioners are; Professor Abdullahi Zuru, a Chemist and former Vice Chancellor of Kebbi State University and Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto: Professor Sani Adam, a lawyer and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja; and Dr Baba Bila, a Chartered Accountant and former Bursar of the University of Benin.

He therefore tasked them to use their experiences and reach resume’ to contribute their own quota in deepening democracy in the country, stressing that there are challenges ahead of them, even as he expressed confidence in their capacity to excel

INEC Chairman noted that the appointment of the new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC,), was in line with the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act which states that every state of the federation would be represented by a REC. He added that the new REC, professor Sa’idu from Jigawa State is to replace Abdullahi Kaugama who recently completed his tenure.

He added that in line with the policy of the Commission to deploy RECS within their geo-political zones, but not be posted to their States of origin, Professor Ahmad has been deployed as the REC for Zamfara State.

“In addition to adherence to the provisions of the law, our success in this arduous task also draws from our integrity as election managers. We must be strict in the application of the law, firm in handling the public trust bestowed on us and fair in our dealings with political parties and candidates.

“We must remember that in discharging our responsibilities, Nigeria and Nigerians must always come first. We must abide by our oaths of office to defend the choice made by Nigerians at the polls in all elections and continue to protect the sanctity of the vote without which democratic election is meaningless.

“Our intention is to keep deepening the credibility of the electoral process by improving on all planning, management, implementation and support processes through the deployment of appropriate technology.

“On this note, let me draw your attention to the reality of serving in INEC. The task ahead is challenging. Let me reiterate once again that you should always bear in mind that a credible election draws heavily from the integrity of the election managers, I urge you to join us in raising the bar even higher.”

The INEC boss further reiterated the position of the Commission to introduce technology to the system with the use of the first real-time uploading of polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (RV) in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) recently used in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta State. He said the BVAS is for efficient human recognition through a biometric verification mechanism using both fingerprint and facial recognition of voters.

Professor Yakubu also expressed satisfaction with the result the commission got from the new voter accreditation device, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which was tested during last week’s Isoko South State Assembly bye election in Delta state.

“Only last weekend, we piloted yet another innovation in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta State. We introduced the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for efficient human recognition through a biometric verification mechanism using both fingerprint and facial recognition of voters. The result of the pilot in the 84 polling units was very encouraging indeed. It took an average of just one minute for the device to correctly locate the voter in the system and another two minutes to authenticate a voter. In terms of the ruggedness of the device and its battery life, no single BVAS was replaced due to discharge of battery throughout the voting period. Most importantly, the device was able to guarantee the credibility of voter accreditation by preventing the incidents of multiple voting or the use of stolen PVCs to vote. All voters were accredited electronically using the BVAS. The use of the incident form was eliminated. The Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election was historic in this respect.”

He noted however that there were a few challenges, noting that matching the voter’s live image against the image on the register was difficult in a few instances due to the quality of pictures of some voters arising from previous voter registration.

“Secondly, some polling units were not bright enough when taking the photo for the facial authentication. Thirdly, there was the age-old problem of thuggery during elections. Our officials were attacked and five BVAS devices snatched by hoodlums. 

“Although this did not affect the elections because we deployed extra devices as part of our contingency measures, the incident is being investigated by the Police. Nevertheless, we wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will address these challenges including the installation of a mechanism to disable and track the device in the event of theft by hoodlums.

“This mechanism will be activated ahead of the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship election,” he assured.

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