Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

The Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC) has completed 100 percent the configuration of the Smart Cards Readers  (SCRs), which will be used for voters’ accreditation for elections on Saturday and March 9, its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said yesterday.

Yakubu, who stated this while updating the media and observers on the preparedness of the commission for the polls, said the deployment of voting materials to the 774 local government areas will be completed today.

The INEC boss added that the deployment began yesterday in 10 states.

He also acknowledged that there were report of missing materials in some states.

The commission, he assured, has made good progress in the areas of logistics and is set for the rescheduled polls.

Yakubu said: “At Tuesday’s briefing, we reported that we achieved 95 per cent configuration of the Smart Card Readers (SCR) nationwide. The Card Readers were introduced in the 2015 general elections to facilitate the accreditation of voters using the PVCs.

“They are configured to specific polling units and only open for use at 8am on election day. They automatically shut down by 10 pm to forestall any illegal use before the appointed time of elections. I am pleased to report that we have now achieved 100 per cent completion of the configuration. We are good to go on this score.

“Similarly, I briefed you on Monday that our state offices had commenced the process of inviting stakeholders to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to examine the retrieved materials deployed last week and to witness the batching of materials according to Local Government Areas (LGAs). Reports from the states indicate full compliance.

“Similarly, I said that having moved the sensitive materials to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the forward deployment to the 774 LGAs nationwide commenced on Wednesday February 20, 2019 and will be concluded Thursday February 21, 2019.

“Already, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Jigawa, Katsina, Osun, Ogun, Oyo and Taraba states have commenced the movement of materials to LGAs today. Other states will do so and conclude Thursday.  We will give a full rendition of movement to LGAs across all states of the Federation Thursday.

“We have been making good progress on logistics. Similarly, all other arrangements for the movement of personnel from the LGAs to the wards are on course. We will fully brief you tomorrow at 3pm.”

On restriction of movement, Yakubu said only accredited diplomats would be allowed to move about as there is restriction on movement.

On the cost implication of postponement of the elections, he said it would be done after the process.

“It is impossible to put a finger to the cost. But after the elections, we will know,” he said.

Yakubu also noted that the commission is not under any kind of pressure ahead of the general elections.

Assuring that it was almost impossible to penetrate the commission’s system, the INEC boss, however, said it would continue to strengthen facilities around its Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

On the readiness of the commission to safeguard the voting materials from tampering, the INEC boss assured that the commission has mechanism in place to fully protect its facilities from any unauthorised assess as most of them are offline.

“But, I want to assure you that much of our ICT facilities are offline. It is almost impossible to attack something that is offline. You can only attack something that is online. So, much of it is actually offline. But, I have taken note of what you have said and we will continue to strengthen security around the ICT. But, at the moment, we have no reason for any panic about any possibility of attack on the facility or compromise on our ICT facilities,” he assured.

The INEC Chairman also added that the commission was not under any pressure from any quarter to conduct the election, promising to announce the result of the election as soon as possible in line with the procedure used in announcing the 2015 presidential election.

“I said so before but let me also repeat that now we have more presidential candidates than 2015. We have more registered voters than we had in 2015. The size of the result sheet is bigger than we had in 2015. But, we are committed to concluding the process for the presidential election roughly around the same time that we concluded the last general election.

“I understand that there is greater urgency, but keenly following the extension and particularly for those who are covering the commission that they don’t extend their stay more than is expected for the outcome of the election. We will do whatever we can to speedily conclude the election consistent with the provisions of the law. We won’t sacrifice due process on the altar of speed. But, we will make sure we balance speed and what we are supposed to do under the law,” he assured.

(The Nation)