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INEC QUERRIES MANUFACTURERS OVER MALFUNCTUNING DDC MACHINES

By NBF News
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Disappointed by the frequent malfunctioning of the Direct Data Capture Machine (DDC), being used for the ongoing voters' registration exercise across the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lodged formal complaints with the three manufacturers of the machines.

The decision by the Commission to complain to the manufacturers was as a result of embarrassment faced by the Commission from members of the public who had condemned INEC roundly over the frustration they experienced in the process of registration.

Consequently, the manufacturers have responded by sending down their engineers to the INEC to look into the challenges being faced by the registration officers in operating the machines.

INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, confirmed yesterday while he and members of his family were registering at a unit in Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Maitama, Abuja, that the manufacturers had dispatched their engineers to the Commission for trouble shooting.

He explained further that to fast track the registration, which began on a slow note last Saturday, the Commission had sent to each state two engineers, who would also be assisted by two INEC technicians in each of the 774 local government councils in the country 'to trouble-shoot at the registration centers that might be running into hitches.'

The engineers and technicians were expected to take certain solutions to the centres to resolve problem of the camera so that capturing would be faster and the picture clearer.

Rationalising the obvious slow pace of registration, Jega argued that the DDC Machines were designed to run on two batteries, each of which was supposed to run for 12 hours. He regretted that some of the batteries were not fully charged before the machines were put to use, hence the tendency for the batteries to run down earlier than expected.

The INEC boss expressed optimism that in a number of days, the slowness in the capturing of voters' biometrics which frustrated Nigerians at the start of the exercise would be overcome.

Top INEC officials disclosed to Daily Sun that a lot of defects had been detected on the machines and that the Commission's leadership was disappointed at the turn of events as far as the registration was concerned because virtually all the challenges encountered during the demonstration of the machines prior to final supply by manufacturers were also surfacing again.

'For instance, we discovered that many of the machines were not meant for our climate here which is tropical, meaning the machines are supposed to be operated under a cool atmosphere. In fact, we understand this is a major factor for the incessant break down,' he stated.

Also yesterday, questions were being raised over the specification of machines supplied by the three manufacturers. There were insinuations that the some of the DDC Machines had ultra slow intel micro-processor used in the 90s instead of the latest one.

This could however not be confirmed as none of the publicity officials of the INEC was available for comment as at press time.

INEC National Commissioner in Charge of Publicity, Solomon Soyebi had blames the Corp members for the inefficient use of the DDC Machines saying majority of them had no basic knowledge about computer to the amazement of the Commission.

Soyebi's claim, observers argued, made nonsense of much touted training the INEC said it had given to the NYSC members deployed for the registration.

Meanwhile, the INEC is expected to pay the family of the slain Corp member a sum of N700, 000 compensation, in line with the package announced by the Commission, under a group life insurance scheme it arranged shortly before the commencement of the voters' registration exercise.

Professor Jega had a press conference he jointly addressed with the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig.-Gen. Ismaila M. Tsiga disclosed that the insurance scheme taken to motivate corps members for patriotic service to their fatherland.

'The Independent National Electoral Commission has taken Group Life Insurance with comprehensive coverage for corps members, other ad-hoc staff as well as regular staff who will participate in the Voter Registration exercise and subsequently in the April elections.

'We believe that we have to do everything possible in order to motivate, to encourage and to inspire people to give their best for their country. And we believe that with this additional facility that we have taken, we will get our corps members and students in the tertiary institutions as well as our staff to give their best under any circumstance.

'There is perhaps no monetary compensation that can be considered adequate for this kind of national service. But still, we can only provide monetary compensation in accordance with budgetary constraints,' Jega stated shortly before disclosing that each corps member was being insured for N700, 000.