By Omeiza Ajayi
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has welcomed three newly appointed National Commissioners as well as sworn in a Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, urging them to be firm in the allocation of extant laws on election management.
Speaking at the event on Wednesday in Abuja, Yakubu said all four appointees bring to the Commission their vast knowledge and experience as scholars and administrators.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier in the day sworn in the three new National Commissioners. They 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.
Yakubu on his part also swore-in a new Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, Sa’idu Ahmad, a Professor of English Literature from Bayero University Kano.
Ahmad fills the vacancy for Jigawa State, being the only State without a REC following the completion of tenure of Abdullahi Kaugama, who had earlier served as Secretary to the Commission.
“At the moment, the policy of the Commission is to deploy RECs within their geo-political zones, but they will not be posted to their States of origin. Accordingly, Professor Ahmad is hereby deployed as the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Zamfara State.
“I am confident that they will join us in further extending the frontiers of free and fair elections in Nigeria. 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”, Yakubu charged.
He said last weekend, INEC 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.
“However, there were a few challenges. 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 added.