An official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the electoral body has begun a nationwide distribution of materials that would be used for this month’s voter registration process, which begins 15th January.
Nick Dazan, deputy director for public affairs, also expressed confidence that the intensified training of its polling officers will ensure the electoral body produces a credible voter register to be used for the general elections.
“The commission has distributed direct data capture machines, that is, the laptop computers and peripherals that would be used to capture biometrics and photographs of registrants that will eventually take place in the elections in all the states of the federation,” said Dazan.
“The same machines were used to train trainers who will train members of the National Youth Corps., who will now register prospective voters from the 15th of January to the 29th of January this year.”
Nigeria will hold elections for president, parliament, and state level races in April. The commission and security agencies were criticized after thieves stole computers to be used for the elections at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
But, Dazan said the theft will not negatively impact the upcoming voter registration exercise.
“At the time the theft occurred, the machines have not been configured. The software that is to be used for the voter registration exercise has not been configured into the laptop. And, the number of laptops that were stolen was infinitesimal. Only about 20 were stolen and 15 were recovered and the security agencies immediately apprehended those who stole the laptops and took them to court,” said Dazan.
“We want to stress that the theft does not, in any way, affect the registration exercise. But, the commission is not resting on its oars. It is making sure that such an ugly situation does not repeat itself. And, the security agencies have assured us that they will secure them.”
Both local and international election observers say the last polls in 2007 were marred by disorganization, intimidation and fraud.
“The commission has worked on the prospect that a certain number of registrants would be registered over a period of time and we were working on making sure that that is done so that, by the end of the day, about 70-million Nigerians would have been registered to vote in the 2011 general elections,” said Dazan.