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Edo, Ondo Polls: INEC Clears Air On Use Of Z-Pad

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said, Wednesday, that no political party or vendor will compel it to deploy any technology, which it has not fully and satisfactorily tested, for the forthcoming Edo and Ondo elections.

The National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Public Information, Mr. Festus Okoye, specifically clarified that the recently introduced tablet (Z-pad) would not serve as a “secondary authentication process for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections because we are still test-running it.”

Speaking at a virtual dialogue on ‘Nigeria Electoral System Audit: Edo and Ondo Elections in Perspectives’ organized by the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Okoye stated that the Z-pad is still being test-run.

According to him, the Z-pad would only be used for uploading the results into the INEC Result View Portal and not as a replacement for the smart card reader used in voters’ authentication.

Okoye also declared that it is mandatory for voters to come to the polling units with face-covering in line with the COVID-19 protocol, restating that INEC would not endanger the lives of other voters.

He emphasized that the commission’s processes and procedures are under control and asked political parties to concentrate on their campaigns and rallies instead of making “false” allegations.

He said, “This particular commission has been the driver of technology in the electoral process.

“We are not going to allow technology to drive us, we are going to drive technology and before we deploy any technological solution to the election, we must make sure that we have tested it and we are sure that the solution is robust and it is something we can defend.

“Any solution we test with a small election and we are not satisfied, we will drop it and nobody, no political party or vendor can force us to deploy a technological solution that we are not sure of.

“We don’t want to gamble with the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

“So we have tested the Z-pad; we are going to use the Z-pad for uploading the result of the polling units into a portal but we are not going to deploy it as a secondary authentication process for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections because we are still test-running it

“We are still working on it and when we are sure that we have fully improved on it, we can now deploy it as a secondary authentication mechanism to the smart card readers.”

He reiterated that the commission remained “focused on having a good election in Edo and Ondo states,” saying INEC remains independent and sees every political party as equal.

Participants at the conference, including the Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, and Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, among others expressed concern over the threat of violence in the election.

Olugbuo said while research conducted by the foundation showed that the majority of the citizens expected the election to be peaceful, the problem of hate speech, incendiary remarks by political thugs, cultism, and drug abuse posed a threat to the peaceful conduct of the exercise.

Also, Idayat Hassan pointed out that abuse of incumbency power, fake news and the mandate usually given to political actors to deliver their polling units could fuel violence in the election.


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