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Will census differ from INEC’s poor tech?

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By Timothy Akintola

National Population Commission promises effectiveness of digital census.

Nigeria is set to hold it’s first digital census later this month and the National Population Commission (NPC) has been actively engaging scores of personnel in training, in preparation for the first full digital consensus in the country. Recall Nigeria last conducted its national census in 2006, where Nigeria’s population was put at 150.46 million. From then, the population has multiplied, increasing to over 223 million. However, the technological discrepancies that ravaged the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System has cast a shadow of doubt over the consistency of a digital census.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress, the winner of the just concluded presidential election on Wednesday. This election, however, did not go without immense criticism from the general public, as to the huge revenue spent on a technological system that failed most Nigerians when it mattered the most. Amongst other challenges that surfaced during the presidential and NASS election, INEC has been hugely criticized for the poor performance of the technological systems.

Concerns raised as to the legitimacy of the just concluded election result.

Amid the numerous criticisms for a badly conducted election within states like Imo, Rivers and Lagos, there was an evident inefficiency of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS). Despite the continuous promises of INEC’s Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu as to the efficacy of the introduced technology, elections were still allegedly rigged across the country, raising major concerns as to the legitimacy of the results declared on Wednesday, as well as INEC’s stance.

Prior to this election, Mahmood Yakubu, at Chatham House in January, admitted that there were issues discovered with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System when first applied for elections in Anambra and FCT, in November 2021 and February 2022 respectively. He thus claimed that the commission had to take a step back and procure solutions to the detected problems. Not only were the BVAS devices not dysfunctional, some of the INEC ad-hoc staffs were less enlightened as to the use of the device, rendering them incapable.

Zinox Technology awarded contract to supply PDA devices for the census.

While INEC in an official statement, blamed this issue on technical hitches which occurred while scaling up the IREV to better oversee the general election, the European Union Election Observation Mission asserted that it was the immense lack of transparency and operational hitches that impacted everyone’s trust in the electioneering process. Since the declaration, opposition parties have indicated their rejection of the results, demanding for a re-election. Whilst Bola Tinubu is the pronounced President-Elect, other candidates have commenced the litigation process.

With the election coming to an end, the National Population Commission is expected to be adequately prepared to hold a credible population census scheduled at the month’s end. Earlier, one of the first equipment manufacturers in West Africa, Zinox Technology, was awarded the N85 billion contract for the supply of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) devices to be used for the 2023 population census. The Managing Director, Kelechi Okonta, noted that the company would deploy all necessary resources to ensure an effectively carried out population census.

Housing types will be collected to enhance physical & social planning.

Nasir Isa Kwarra, the Chairman of NPC, also noted that the acquired geospatial resources would be facilitated, ensuring Nigerians that statistics on housing types would also be collected to further enhance the government’s physical and social planning. On the short-handedness challenge that INEC faced, Abubakar Damburam, the NPC Gombe Commissioner indicated that the population commission must further invest in training its staffs to curb this challenge. He also assured the public on the effectiveness of the instruments, noting that the census instruments had been pretested.

Related Link

National Population Commission: Website

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