By Adibe Emenyonu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that in addition to the card reader authentication, it was going to deploy another innovation called the “Zip with Z-file.”
Professor Mahmood Yakubu, INEC National Chairman made the disclosure in Benin City, capital of Edo State while addressing staff of the Commission.
He explained that the Zip with Z-file, was a tablet with a camera, which at the end of voting and sorting out of ballots, will take a picture and transmit same to a dedicated portal for everyone to view the polling unit result live and direct.
His words: “The Z-file is a tablet with camera that captures the entire voting exercise in every polling unit. It functions in such a way that at the end of the process after voting has been concluded and sorted out, the ballots counted, the picture of the form ECBA would be taken and transmitted to a dedicated portal so that Nigerians can view the polling unit results live and direct by those closed to the polling units.”
He said the innovation was deployed at the Nasarawa State Central Federal Constituency by-election that before the declaration of results, Nigerians were able to view the few clean results of the polling units.
“It was a great enhancement of the previous elections and this is the major election after the Nasarawa State by-election, so Edo will set the pace for the conduct of other major by-elections and we look forward to a successful not transmission but availability on form ECBA for public views on election day.
The INEC boss admonished staff of the Commission on the need to be neutral in all their doings during the exercise stressing, “Neutrality and professionalism are very important as we are not supporting any political party or the candidate and we are not against any political party or the candidate either.
“Our concern is the integrity and transparency of the process. The choice of who became the governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of Edo people and we are going to protect the process,” he said.
Stressing the importance of opening the polling unit early because the period of election had been adjusted in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.
He also told the staff the importance of opening the polling unit early, pointing out that he wanted Nigerians to find officials and materials waiting for them and not the other way round hence since the issue of logistics had been addressed.
“We have adjusted the opening time from 8am to 8:30; and the closing time from 2pm to 2:30 pm. I am confident you will not let the commission down.
“We were here four years ago and the lesson we learnt is that we must be able to speed the process and declare the result on time because the longer it takes the more it becomes problematic to manage it. So we must get logistics right”, he declared.
The other number of innovation, introduced by INEC, he said was the policy of conducting election under COVID-19 pandemic.
To address this, Prof. Yakubu said the Commission had made the wearing of mask compulsory and the use of hand sanitizers even as it has made provision for that.
Additionally, he said provisions had been made for infrared thermometer at the collation centres and also working to extend it to polling units.
According to him, “Request had been made to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to avail the Commission about 3,000 infrared thermometers for polling units and voting points.
“But on our own we have made provision for 192 ward collation centres and when PTF is able to avail us, we will extend it to the collation centres in the 18 local government and state collation centre.
“You are required to manage the polling unit in a manner that we have not been doing before as the cubicle would be demarcated in a manner that will give two metres distance between voters since it is going to be accreditation and voting simultaneously.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. John Alalibo Sinikem, said training of adhoc staff, online application wass still ongoing.
Noting the further their preparations for a credible election in the state, Dr. Sinikiem however, decried the budget cut for the election.
At the end of the meeting, there was tour of INEC offices and facilities in the state.