By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
By the time the on-going voter registration is concluded nationwide today, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would have spent N1,428 in registering each potential voter or a total sum of N94.3 billion for the approximately 66 million Nigerians it projected to register.
An initial N87.7 billion was approved for the 22-day exercise, but an additional N6.6 billion was requested for one week extension of the exercise.
Two weeks ago when the INEC chairman appeared before the Senate to give a progress report on the registration, he said that irrespective of the hiccups that attended the exercise, INEC would be able to register approximately 66 million in the following order:
•Akwa Ibom 1,158,449
•Cross River 1,137,872
The funds were for the importation of 120,000 units of the Direct Data Capture machine deployed by the commission to different registration centers .
The first set of the DDC machines consisting of 7574 units came into the country on December 8, 2010. At the start of registration, the total number of machines deployed to the states was about 107,000. Within the first five days of registration, the commission had deployed about 115,500 units.
The machines cost $1771.73 per set comprising a laptop, webcam, and printer and were supplied by three companies including Zinox Technologies Limited, Haier Electrical Appliances Corporation and Avante International Technology Inc. to the commission.
The DDC machines which were manufactured in China, from where they were brought to Nigeria were used by ad-hoc staff of INEC and corps members in the country for the registration of adult citizens between January 15 and February 5, 2011. By the second week of the registration, about 120,000 units were deployed for the registration exercise. Every polling unit in Nigeria has at least one DDC machine.
Areas of high surge in turnout across the country, particularly Abuja and Lagos, have additional machines deployed to ensure that many people are registered.
There are also 240,000 INEC staff and ad-hoc staff made up of mostly youth corps members deployed to registration centres who earn salaries and other allowances on daily , weekly and monthly basis, including transportation costs and purchase of other materials required for the registration exercise. The cost also involves maintenance for the technical teams in all the states and the FCT including INEC ICT staff, the manufacturers of the DDC machines and Technical Support Groups.
These teams have been moving around locations in order to deal with reported challenges which includes equipment to be replaced and repairs to be made.