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Hope dims for electronic transmission of election results, e-voting

...As NCC says 50% of polling units have 3G network ...Reps in another rowdy session over Electoral Act

The hope of Nigeria transiting from the manual electronic transmission of election results and voting is gradually being dashed as lawmakers opposed to section 52 seeking such a provision in Electoral Act Amendment Bill about to pass by the House of Representatives have gotten more teeth.

This followed the declaration by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Friday that only 50 percent of Polling Units across the country have 3G networks that can enable such transmission.

The House of Representatives failed to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on Thursday mid-way into the consideration of the report of the Committee on Electoral Matters over the controversy surrounding clause 52.

Section 52 (2) of the Bill sighted by BusinessDay provided that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saddled with the responsibility of conducting elections “may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election conducts as it may deem fit”.

The Committee however, said in the report that this provision “is a further amendment of the 2015 Amendment to clearly give the Commission the discretion to introduce electronic voting as may be practicable.

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Sequel to the stalemate when the section was to be considered, the House adjourned to Friday and summoned the NCC to appear and guide the House on the controversial section 52(2) of the proposed legislation.

NCC speaking through the executive commissioner Technical Services, Ubale Maska when it appeared before the Parliament gave the indication that electronic transmission of the election was not possible.

“We did an analysis of network coverage in 2018 in respect of all polling units in the country. We found out we had 119, 000 polling units. We plotted 2G and 3G coverage. We were able to see that about half of the polling units were covered with 2G/3G services. Roughly about 50.3 percent of those then about 49.7 percent didn’t have network coverage at all.

“…50 percent had 3G coverage and 2G together 49.7 percent had only 2G and about 1000 Polling Units had none at all. From a personal standpoint, what is required is 3G that could give that kind of transmission in full”, Maska said.

As soon as the NCC team departed the session of the House became rowdy when the consideration of the Electoral Act began and the deputy speaker, chairing the Committee of the Whole skipped the controversial clause (section) 52.

This forced the deputy minority leader, Toby Okechukwu to raise a point of order, drawing the attention of the House to the fact that there is a subsisting motion for amendment to section 52 of the Bill.

But Wase said there was no motion to that effect and this sparked reactions from lawmakers throwing the House in disarray with some members quarreling in their local dialects against the rules of the House which allowed only the use of lingua franca (English) in the conduct of its Business.

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