By Ebele Orakpo
“See me see trouble oo,” shouted Bob, a commuter in the CMS-bound commuter vehicle as the bus weaved through the morning traffic. This drew the attention of other commuters to him to find out what he was shouting about.
“We can see you quite alright but where is the trouble?” asked Tim, jokingly.
Bob was pointing at a national daily being displayed by a newspaper vendor with the screaming headline: INEC machine rejects Obasanjo’s fingerprints. “Why does the Nigerian Press love sensationalism? That Obasanjo’s fingerprints could not be captured by the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machine when he went to register became headline news! Don’t they have something better to write about?” asked Ben in seeming annoyance.
“The man is newsworthy any day, any time. That is the price he has to pay for being a public figure, an ex-president for that matter. After all, he was not the only person the machine could not capture his fingerprints. It is sweet to be rich and famous but there is always a price to pay. Like the mad man would say: ‘Madness is sweet, it is enjoyable, but the only problem is the long trekking involved,’” commented Uche. This elicited laughter from all the commuters.
Said Titi: “Of course he was not the only one. As a matter of fact, in one of the registration centres, all the old people could not be registered because the machine could not, or simply refused to capture their fingerprints.”
“Haba Titi! Come on! What are you insinuating?” asked John still laughing.
“I am not insinuating anything. I am just telling you what happened,” replied Titi.
“Please, the problem was a general thing. Young people could not register in some centres because of the same issue. What about journalists that could not register because the machine was not programmed to accept journalism as a profession? So the problem must be with the machines and not the people,” argued Ify.
“So Titi, according to you, all the old people at that centre could not be registered because the DDC machine could not capture their fingerprints? And what was the explanation for that?” Uche wanted to know.
“One possible explanation could be that as one ages, the fingerprints fade and that makes it very difficult for the machine to capture them,” stated Titi.
“Dr. Titi, I don’t agree with you one bit. Jokes apart, did it occur to you that the machines could be faulty or that the personnel manning the machines may not have been trained?” asked Ify.
“Yeah, you are right Ify. Some of the complaints were that the batteries were not charged, the thumb print software they uploaded was not in sync with the system and blah, blah, blah,” said Bassey.
“That’s more like it,” agreed Chuks. “I learnt that fingerprints are completely formed by the time a person is seven months old in the womb and unless the person has accidents with his hands, his fingerprints remain the same throughout life.”