Monday, 10 December 2012 00:00
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Stakeholders laud test-run success of NIGCOMSAT electronic voting

The Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) has successfully conducted its yearly general elections online real-time through an e-voting system manufactured locally by engineers at Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT).

The elections were monitored by participants and voters online either on their laptops or smartphones that are internet enabled.

Prior to the election, data of the members were captured electronically and biometric information taken.

At the venue of the election, the data was accessed electronically and accreditation was smooth.

NIGCOMSAT provided mobile internet via Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) for connectivity to broadcast events online real-time on the NigComSat-1R satellite.

By this means, participants and contestants monitored the procedures online real-time as voting was updated on the dedicated website for the election as each voter cast his or her ballot.

The elections were conducted at the Kwara Hotels, Ilorin and transmitted live on NTA Network.

A visibly excited NSE President, Engr. Mustapha Shehu Balarabe said, the engineers have done it again adding, “this innovation from our engineers at NIGCOMSAT is commendable. It is novel and we are the pioneers, and this has proved that so many good things could come out of Nigeria and we engineers are pioneers in this regard of e-voting.”

He said engineers have done what could be adopted by government in future general elections that is likely to save the Country from incessant huge capital flights.

This, he said will free the Country from post-election rancour and litigations by those who lost and think that the elections have been rigged in favour of their opponents.

Chairman of the NSE Elections Committee, Engr. Charles Mbanefo said he was very happy with the outcome of the election “that it was online real-time made the committee’s job light because those who won and those who lost saw the transparency of the process.

It was free and fair. Even people who were not at the venue monitored the election because it was web-based and results were updated real-time on the dedicated website for the election.”

Mbanefo said that the NSE election which ran on the NIGCOMSAT developed e-voting system was a test-case and it was a very successful process.

A total number of 1,313 voters registered while 1,033 were accredited to vote. The accreditation procedure was equally smooth.

President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Dr. Chris Uwaje captured the situation this way: “It shows that indigenous technology is capable of meeting global competition. Now that NIGCOMSAT Limited has demonstrated this in very exemplary format, government should constitute a national e-voting committee. NIGCOMSAT should be commended.”

National Secretary, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Shuaibu Leman Usman in his reaction to the NIGCOMSAT breakthrough in NSE e-voting said “my view is that we should continue to look inward.  Satellite business is a very sensitive issue and Nigeria cannot continue to rely on foreign satellites.”

He described the e-voting election by NSE as a breakthrough for Nigeria. “I therefore commend NIGCOMSAT for this innovation and urge the company to partner with the media in this area for national development and for humanity.”

One of the candidates who eventually emerged as one of three Vice Presidents said he was overwhelmed by the e-voting system because it corrected several misgivings of the past.

Indeed, he said when he contested last year, he was sure of victory but something strange happened and he lost.

“But this e-voting system by NIGCOMSAT is comforting because every contestant knows his or her fate online real-time. This is very fantastic.”

NSE had earlier rejected manual voting hence the adoption of the e-voting which to most of them was fool-proof.

The e-voting platform was designed, developed and produced by the Micro Elections Centre (MEC) at NIGCOMSAT.