Monday, 31 January 2011

Nigeria: The Revolution has already begun

The cry for revolution is shrill

I have suffered to my hurt and discomfort the many cries for revolution in Nigeria. Everyone seems to have an opinion about change for Nigeria; be it splitting up the country to sending the current crop of leaders to an early grave in order to clear the air for new growth.

Once again, it can be so easy to list all the problems with Nigeria, the great potential squandered by the selfish interests of those who on assumption of power are too intoxicated to walk straight, think right and act determined for the progress of the country.

The spirit of profligacy and kleptomania possesses the leaders to the point that rampant acquisition beyond needs leaves their bank accounts heavier than the treasury of the country – we have been sorely lead and badly served, indeed, something needs to give.

We are NOT like the others

There are some that wish for the clear-out that Jerry Rawlings offered Ghana with the execution of three of his predecessors, it did appear to purge Ghana of some of the poison and rottenness that was engulfing it, but Nigeria does not have a Jerry Rawlings.

The nearest example to that might have been Mohammadu Buhari in the early 80’s but in his zest to improve the country, it was slowly being turned into an Islamic police state, it prepared the way for even worse leadership that has held Nigeria hamstrung since.

One could say that the worst times in Nigeria were during the time of the military despot, Sani Abacha who by the grace of God expired in a sexual orgy which presaged the preparation of democratic rule just a year after in 1999.

Our ruler-ship is not homogenous

However, it is left for one to wonder about the ends of a revolution in Nigeria, we have not been under the cosh of or autocratic regimes like the Arabic states of North Africa where leaders have been in charge forever, chief amongst whom is Muammar al-Gadhafi of Libya. Nor have we suffered the false democracies of Uganda or Zimbabwe there has been a musical chairs of the ruling elite in Nigeria.

In some cases, they all seem to be of the same ilk, it is not like Nigeria has some popular leader of opposition in exile waiting to take the mantle of leadership when the revolution has toppled those in power.

The revolution talk is fraught with serious problems because the leadership clique is not homogenous, it is composed of competing interests regional, religious, political, economic and social.

None seem to have the wherewithal to coalesce for a common good because of egotistical megalomaniacs who only understand compromise and consensus in terms of the former being their lead and the latter being their view, none of which is negotiable.

After revolution comes anarchy

In other words, there might well be a revolution but no leader to reap the fruits of the revolution; we might well end up in anarchy with a rapidly deteriorating state of affairs as these competing interests jostle for position, opportunity, power and the do-or-die grab for the spoils.

We do need reform and change; we need a common goal for the good of Nigeria, preserving the entity and the identity that makes us proud Nigerians.

However, the good people have not stepped forward and for good reason many who might cannot bear the snake-pit of politics to sully their good intentions, plan and possibly progressive policies for Nigeria.

We are not suited for the usual revolutions

Nigeria is by no means ripe for a revolution, there are no components in place to make it the success we desire with blind optimism, we can do well to educate ourselves, participate fully in the democratic process we have, deign to hold the elected accountable and become better and coherent activists that demand positive action or expect the said leaders to resign in disgrace.

We are plagued with leaders of old who have refused to retire, whilst one cannot pray – death come swiftly and take them away, until we rise to assumed greater responsibility we would be belittled and patronised by those who through arrogance and hubris think they are the best gifts to Nigeria when they are in fact the worst things to be inflicted on our long-suffering people.

Your revolution is in RSVP

Pray, if you might, fast, if you will, but until we all take up the mantle of civic responsibility by registering to vote; selecting those we can trust and hold accountable; vote for those who have not tried to usurp the system, whose character is beyond reproach and competence is verifiably vouched for and stood to protect the voice of our collected efforts of choosing our leaders our revolution would be too far away in the future to grasp and too high an aspiration to attain.

Register | Select | Vote | Protect [1] without regrets your revolution by participating in democratic change for great change and accountability – the protection part does not end when the results are declared, it continues for the duration of the term of that elected representative and any other connected interest that should be working for the good and progress of the country.

Nigeria’s revolution is not in the template of marching the streets with civil disorder to upset the as it were status quo, our Green Revolution is in making the best of what we have now, take the democratic bull by the horns and not relenting until the will of the people is fully expressed and accepted in free, fair, credible and viable elections.

Our revolution has started already, are you in the move to change your country for the good?

Source

[1] EiE NIGERIA: Register | Select | Vote | Protect

Nigeria: Jega Joint Committee Hearing - Part II

Introducing Part II

In Part I [1] of my notes on the Joint Committee on Election Matters (JCEM) hearing with the INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega, the chairman dealt with the attendant problems with the registration and the options for extending the registration period.

In Part II we address the professor’s views and answers to questions on the issues of probability, abuse of registration, failsafe mechanisms and registration amelioration procedures.

On the matter of 10 fingerprint scanning

I had in a previous blog [2] questioned the rationale behind a 10-finger registration rather than just a thumbprint. That view gained its strength of opposition from the fact that the fingerprint scanning was problematic, time-consuming and in many cases failing.

There is also the data-acquisition, data-security and data-privacy dimension to this because there is no law that quarantines this data from use by other agencies of government that might find it useful.

Many persuasive arguments can be made for sharing the fingerprint data of the adult Nigerian population beyond the primary voter identification requirement.

When you do not need the scans

The INEC Registrars were circumventing the process and overriding the 10-fingerprint scan which was only supposed to apply for special registrations of amputees, people who have lost fingers or very rare medical conditions that could affect fingerprint recognition.

#JegaSays Lazy #INECRegistration officials, overwhelmed by queues, 'suspended' 10 fingers & will be disciplined #JCEM #RSVP

On missing fingers, #JegaSays #INECRegistration team have been abusing the 10 finger override. #JCEM #RSVP

On missing fingers, #JegaSays fingers available tips. #INECRegistration team MUST make detailed notes of missing digits #JCEM #RSVP

#JegaSays Detailed guidelines for re-registration due to 10 fingers. #JCEM suggested Jega inform all via mass media #RSVP

#JegaSays ALL #INECRegistration lacking 10 fingers or detailed notes explaining absence of 10 will be voided #JCEM #RSVP

Memo on special registrations

Five days into the voters registration exercise, INEC released a memo to address the matter of registrations without some or all the fingerprints which I covered in this blog [3].

@forakin Just reading it. I'm impressed #INECRegistration published the memo. Didn't realise they had. Corresponds with #JegaSays - #JCEM date

The chairman took the opportunity at the hearing to address the matter of the 10-fingerprint requirement with statistics and probabilities.

Probabilities and statistics

#JegaSays '10 fingers' reduces chances of multiple #INECRegistration to 1 in every 5,000,000 #JCEM #RSVP

This is an interesting statistic and this drew a number of Twitter comments.

Since the estimated number of eligible voters in Nigeria is 70,000,000, there is the possibility of one set of 10 fingerprints matching the set for 14 people.

@rmajayi Which means in a sample of 70,000,000 possible voters, 14 people per 10 fingerprints can match #INECRegistration #JCEM fantastic.

@rmajayi The probability charts and calculations presaging 1/5,000,000 for #INECRegistration fingerprint match should be interesting #JCEM

The 1 in every 5,000,000 probability issue would only be identified when all the data is collated and processed by INEC computers.

Multiple registrations and detection

#JegaSays Multiple #INECRegistration is possible by using different PU. But final collation will flag ALL multiples #JCEM #RSVP

#JegaSays Some unscrupulous politicians have found out this #INECRegistration trick, but use will backfire! #JCEM #RSVP

However, there have been reports of registrations where the system indicated the new fingerprints being scanned were already in use by others.

@eshkhai LMFAO #inecregistration my fingerprints already in use by a registered voter... SMH

One wonders if the adjusted resolution of the fingerprint scanner would results in false duplicates because there are not enough distinguishing features to give the fingerprints the necessary uniqueness for differentiation.

That would present INEC with an interesting dilemma that I would not want to contemplate at this moment.

That's exactly what #JegaSays - only 14 possible multiple #INECRegistration's in 70,000,000 #JCEM

I am of the view that this is theoretical and in a practical sense there might be certain realities that INEC have not considered and might have been answered better if the chairman had been accompanied as the next tweet suggested.

So, there is one issue of the DDC machines not being able to create uniqueness between different registrants beyond the matter of the prevention of multiple registrations at the same Polling Unit.

#JegaSays Multiple registration is NOT possible on same #INECRegistration Polling Unit. #JCEM #RSVP

Handling the issues

The chairman then said INEC is equipped to deal with these issues, technically and legally.

#JCEM commended #JegaSays for upgrading from #INECRegistration software Version 1.2 to 1.8 in the first few days. #RSVP

Beyond recalibrating the fingerprint scanners, the software had to be upgraded from Version 1.2 to Version 1.8, which might indicated between testing and deployment that there serious issues that INEC had not taken on board regarding the software.

#JegaSays Each DDC's configured to 1 #INECRegistration Polling Unit. If diverted, INEC can cancel & replace. #JCEM #RSVP

This would perhaps deal with the many cases of stolen DDCs that had user data uploaded unto them but outside the supervision of INEC personnel.

#JegaSays There is no way to feed data from stolen DDCs into the final #INECRegistration register. #JCEM #RSVP

If such DDC machines have been flagged as suspect that might be the case but what of those who were registered before the machines disappeared?

One representative at the #JCEM said Jega should have brought the #INECRegistration IT guru to the grilling. That would've been fun!

It would have been interesting indeed.

In any event, there are provisions to deal with electoral crimes once that offenders are caught.

#JegaSays INEC has capacity to investigate & prosecute multiple & underage #INECRegistration & other crimes #JCEM #RSVP

Poor logistics

The chairman then addressed the matter of furniture for Polling Units, this is strange since one would think schools were closed to allow for the premises to be used for the registration exercise.

#JCEM asked #JegaSays why #INECRegistration centres lacked chairs for those waiting, despite FG budget provision #RSVP

#JegaSays Money for #INECRegistration chairs disbursed to states. Suggested logistics to blame for no chairs #JCEM #RSVP

Indeed, the logistical framework of INEC is an appalling disaster, unplanned, unprepared, unready, unsure and full of hubris.

#JCEM scolded #JegaSays for not carrying out a 'mock' #INECRegistration to test the process. #RSVP :: Word!

This is a critical project management oversight, they basically tested the systems in the field and used firefighting methods to arrest the farcical developments that led to the JCEM requiring an urgent visit from the INEC chairman – the whole project seemed to be failing and it might only be redeemed because the voters registration exercise has been extended for a week.

#JCEM also criticised the lacklustre attitude of #JegaSays' permanent and ad hoc #INECRegistration staff #RSVP

The timetable was tight, the deadlines were almost unrealistic and the time constraints made for shoddy arrangements and staff literally learning on the job and not very motivated in what they were doing.

Re-registration tips

The following are tips the chairman gave with regards to re-registering.

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 1/9. #JegaSays: If 10 fingers were NOT scanned, you MUST re-register! #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 2/9. #JegaSays: Return to the SAME Polling Unit with old voter’s card #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 3/9. #JegaSays: Give card to officer, who will CUT it but not discard #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 4/9. #JegaSays: Recapture ALL personal data #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 5/9. #JegaSays: Officer to locate & CANCEL original entry in docket #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 6/9. #JegaSays: Officer MUST write reason as 'NON CAPTURE OF FINGERS’ #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 7/9. #JegaSays: Officer MUST make fresh entry in registration docket #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 8/9. #JegaSays: Failure to do 1-8 will result in voiding of both regs #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

#INECRegistration re-reg tip 9/9. Challenge any officer who refuses to follow #JegaSays guidelines #JCEM #RSVP #Nigeria

These notes were created from Twitter conversations given by @RMAjayi who in turn took notes from watching the proceedings and hearing.

@forakin I hope I can get my hands on the Jega-#JCEM NTA news video. I wish #INECRegistration had a YouTube channel. #RSVP

Many thanks to @RMAjayi for the tweets, I hope these are as representative as possible of the hearings.

Sources

[1] Akin Akintayo: Nigeria: Jega Joint Committee Hearing - Part I

[2] Akin Akintayo: Nigeria: INEC - One finger is enough 10 fingers is insanity

[3] Akin Akintayo: Nigeria: INEC Memo to Correct Prior Registration without Fingerprints

The Backstory on Egusi

Not for hard-labour peanuts

I seem to have acquired a taste for salted peanuts the excess of which is definitely unhealthy, but the act of pouring the nuts into a cupped hand and raising that to fill my buccal cavity and masticating the nuts as I savour the taste before swallowing has become something of a regular snack.

So, I walked into a shop and after picking up a few drinks, I asked for peanuts, they were not that obvious looking through the shelves.

I was first presented with a bag of peanuts or groundnuts [1] (Arachis hypogaea), hard-labour peanuts, still in their shells that needed cracking and the skinning of their brown skins before I could eat them.

The rate at which the nuts get consumed would be slowed down considerably and I have never really seen anyone shell all the nuts from the bag first before settling down to consumption, it was cracking one peanut shell at a time, with an average of 2 peanuts, skinning them, then eating.

As anyone would know, groundnuts come out of the ground and cashew [2] nuts hang off the end of the fleshy succulent cashew fruit.

In the beginning before Egusi soup

It reminded me of a backstory I ended up telling the shop-keeper as I said I wanted instant gratification not the drudgery of nut cracking.

In Nigeria we have a very delicious stew which is commonly known by its Yoruba name – Egusi [3] soup – it could be plain, with vegetables, garnished with dried fish pieces and contain fresh fish or meat, however, this is not a recipe; we are going to the genesis of it all.

There are many varieties of melon belonging to the cucurbitaceae [4] plant family which brings together cucumbers, loofas, pumpkins and, watermelons which in this context are fleshy, tasty and full of water, the seeds in the middle are spat out, never eaten.

Egusi comes from watermelons [5], only in this case, the fruity flesh is not considered edible but the seeds are what we are after. I sometimes wonder how they discovered the edibility of those seeds and the trouble that goes into getting at the seeds.

Getting at the seeds is foul

When the melons are mature, just before they are harvested, the melons are punctured with a pointed stake of wood and left to rot. This takes about a week, during which the flesh ferments, begins to decompose and turns watery.

This allows for the pulpy melon fruit to be opened up by hand, scraped unto a special sieve to separate the seeds from the pulp. Picking up these rotten, smelly and fermented melons can be fraught with dangers, though I have not heard of snakes hiding amongst the melons, it is a possibility but dangerous insects do with very painful bites.

More menacingly is a very hairy caterpillar, the hairs excite histamine causing very serious itching and a rash, sometimes it can be very painful too – it is not a job for the squeamish, the end result is however worthwhile.

When the seeds are separated from the pulp, they are left out to dry, firming up the seed casing and ready to be sold.

Hands a-dainty for seed shelling

You can also get the shelled seeds but that costs extra and somehow one cannot vouch for their shelf-life, the lazier cook would go for the blended seeds, which looks very much like Moroccan couscous with an aroma quite close to aniseed, it is oily but I doubt if melon seed oils have any cosmetic value.

The shelling process is a bit of an art, the seed casing is slightly twisted, the top end and bottom end held between the thumb and index finger of each hand and then pulled apart to reveal the white teardrop shaped seed, round on one end and pointed on the other, just about a millimetre thick.

I have never counted the number of seeds that needed shelling for stew making, but it is usually a communal job or a few hands that goes on for a few hours.

Science and engineering have been involved with the Canadians sponsoring a project to help in shelling Egusi seeds and this interesting abstract of a study [6] of the force required to crack a melon seed shell without destroying the seed itself.

The seeds are never washed after this, in some cases, they are roasted before being blended and used in stews, and many people never get to experience the backstory.

As for the making of Egusi soup, you probably can get a recipe [7], but that is not my story.

Sources

[1] Peanut - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

[2] Cashew - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

[3] Egusi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

[4] Cucurbitaceae - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

[5] Watermelon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

[6] Investigation of Force Required to Crack Melon Seed Shell by Static Loading

[7] Egusi Soup Recipe

Saturday, 29 January 2011

WikiLeaks: Shaytan-e Bozorg does have a forked tongue

A whole range of readings

In one of those occasions where I did not feel like conducting extensive analysis of reference material, I had first read most of the stuff on in The Daily Telegraph [1] at breakfast.

When I returned to my room, I checked up on a few other sources to follow up on other news events whilst keeping an eye on the scores at the Australian Open Women’s Grand Slam Final [2] then posted a tweet regarding my breakfast reading.

@forakin US planned uprising in Egypt - WikiLeaks — RT http://bit.ly/feLX4b A forked tongue friend to Mubarak it seems.

The Facebook refuseniks inspired this blog

It should have been a blog, but I decided to flesh out the “forked tongue” statement on Facebook because a whole thought process was going on in my mind about this revelation.

Having written the status and comment on Facebook, I decided I might well make a blog of it, partly because it serves as an easier reference point for this thinking and for those friends of mine who have been recalcitrant, obstinate, stubborn and un-persuaded to join the discourse on Facebook.

I am on your cases and I will not relent, you all know who you are. Yes! You!

The clearer picture with WikiLeaks

So, I started with, “The US seems to be living up to its epithet which should concern every other nation that portends to call it an ally”.

Then followed with; in 1979, it earned the name Shaytan-e Bozorg [3] (Great Satan) from Iran's Ayatollah, more recently, the WikiLeaks cables have revealed a public acclamation of alliance whilst privately their emissaries or ambassadors who as officially sanctioned spies have been doing the dirty on their host countries.

The cables having been scoured by Department of State apparatchiks would no doubt have informed the kind of strategic alliances the US will maintain either to buttress or undermine; all in the particular national interest of the USA.

True to type it seems

Having heard to the point of falling violently sick that Hosni Mubarak is a strong American ally, WikiLeaks reveals the US has been working to topple his government for 3 years.

This casts the US as a friend with a forked-tongue and if we were use the Iranian template, the Great Satan is by inference, the Great Snake too.

Sources

[1] Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising - Telegraph

[2] Kim Clijsters wins Australian Open title - Boston.com

[3] Great Satan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, 28 January 2011

Nigeria: Jega Joint Committee Hearing - Part I

Take off to a grounding

I would like to believe that every little helps towards ensuring that the elections to take place in Nigerian in April 2011 are free, fair, beyond reproach and at the point of declaration of the results all contestants would find themselves content with the conduct and the dispatch of the electioneering process.

Since the 15th of January, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been conducting a voters’ registration exercise planned to last 15 days until Saturday the 29th of January 2011.

This process has been fraught with problems and issues that the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega was invited for a hearing by the Joint Committee for Election Monitoring (JCEM) of the Nigerian National Assembly to answer a whole range of questions concerning the conduct and the pace of the exercise.

Stenography meets Twitter

This hearing was broadcast on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and copious notes were taken by my good Twitter friend RMAjayi and relayed to me in a number of Twitter messages that were logged for well over an hour. We hope that eventually we would get a recording of that hearing to share here with you so that you can review the conversations yourself.

Meanwhile, this blog will combine the Twitter messages with comments and analysis that I will provide and hopefully will be annotated and commented on by RMAjayi to maintain the context, import and setting of that hearing.

RMAjayi has smartly given the core elements of that hearing the Twitter #JCEM hashtag, it includes quotes or paraphrased commends of Professor Jega as the Twitter #JegaSays hashtag and a majority of this falls under the more general Twitter #INECRegistration hashtag, you can click on the links to provide you the Twitter streams related to each hashtag.

The #RSVP hashtag is the initiative of the Enough is Enough Nigeria Organisation and it is the acronym for Register – Select – Vote – Protect.

Short on the orders

At the hearing Professor Jega started with the numbers game by enumerating the number of Digital Data Capture (DDC) machines ordered, recorded in the following tweets.

#JegaSays all 80,000 Zinox (Nigeria) DDCs delivered on time for Jan 15 #INECRegistration start. #JCEM #RSVP

#JegaSays all 30,000 Haier (China) DDCs delivered on time for Jan 15 #INECRegistration start. #JCEM #RSVP

#JegaSays only 5,500 of 22,000 Avente (USA) DDCs delivered on time for Jan 15 #INECRegistration start. #JCEM #RSVP

#JegaSays By Jan 15, #INECRegistration had 115,500 (80+30+5.5)K DDC machines for 119,973 PUs across #Nigeria#JCEM #RSVP

This indicates that DDCs which are essentially laptops were ordered from Nigerian, Chinese and American companies with the American company only fulfilling 25% of its allocation when the registration started and that meant 4,473 Polling Units (PUs) could not start registration at the commencement date.

By #JegaSays calculations, there are 12,027 surplus #INECRegistration DDC machines. #JCEM #RSVP. What'll happen to them?

In fact, there would be 13,037 surplus systems whose function has not yet been clearly defined.

#JegaSays US-based Avente Tech will face penalty for failure to deliver #INECRegistration DDCs in time. #JCEM #RSVP

Obviously, if that is written into the contract and the small print does not exculpate the company, there might be a case for claim compensation, however, there is no doubt that the schedules were tight and no one company could fulfil the complete order.

Fast and Cheap is usually not Good

After the DDCs were acquired they had to be installed and configured, the costs were kept low by using Open Source software which included a distribution of Linux and a custom built database to warehouse the captured data.

#JegaSays #INECRegistration software was designed in-house & there was "no need to pay for it''. What exactly did Nigeria pay for?

@DoubleEph @forakin #JegaSays the DDCs were built to #INECRegistration specs. I don't think we can blame the suppliers. #JCEM

We can only hope that the database is robust enough to handle that data which would include the comparison of fingerprint data.

One interesting oversight has been noticed in the database where in the Profession/Occupation field “Journalist” is missing which for Nigeria is an error bordering on sacrilege.

The gender selection section on the user interface should have been a radio button allowing an either/or selection of gender but it was a drop-down box leaving some registrants registered as transsexuals.

The ghosts of censuses past

#JegaSays Shortfall of #INECRegistration DDCs was shared across #Nigeria in carefully considered percentages #JCEM #RSVP

The only reference data they would have had to compute these “carefully considered percentages” would have been the 2006 Census that left many unhappy that we had not properly counted ourselves, a topic I wrote about in one of my blogs – Gauging the 2006 Census.

The granting of a long holiday without restrictions in mobility especially in the South allowed for the numbers to skewed in favour of villages of typical town dwellers who took the opportunity to travel home.

And it explains why - #JegaSays Lagos was hit hardest by insufficient #INECRegistration DDCs, due to its population size. #JCEM #RSVP

Fingerprints were the linchpin of success

As far as the Professor was concerned - #JegaSays standard of #INECRegistration DDCs is world-class. No issues with equipment, only fingerprints #JCEM #RSVP

But if fingerprint scanning was critical to ensuring a registration was complete and successful, it has become part of the critical path and hence to the layman the system was faulty because the product did not meet the standard required for valid Voter’s Registration Cards, the minutiae was superfluous to the expected goal though necessary for effective troubleshooting.

#JegaSays #INECRegistration fingerprint scanners were set to the highest sensitivity possible, higher than necessary #JCEM #RSVP

#JegaSays #INECRegistration fingerprint sensitivity was set to 50-point miniature as used in forensics; slowing down scans #JCEM #RSVP

This shows that demonstrations might have been given to show the full capability of the systems but someone should have reviewed the capabilities (forensics) against the needs (identification) and that gap analysis would have allowed to the necessary trade-offs to be made mitigating the localised issues we later encountered which crudely suggest Sub-Saharan fingerprint whorls might not be readable at certain resolutions.

The difficulties encountered led to interesting improvisations from the washing of hands, through cleaning the fingers with methylated spirit which could damage the plastic components of the scanner to the illogical passing of fingers through sand.

Recalibrate and upgrade

#JegaSays #INECRegistration DDCs were reset, reducing scan quality but still adequate to combat multiple registration #JCEM#RSVP

The systems were then recalibrated and suddenly the fingerprint scanner process became easier with many registrations being completed within 10 minutes maximum.

#JCEM commended #JegaSays for upgrading from #INECRegistration software Version 1.2 to 1.8 in the first few days. #RSVP

Sneeze in this one

It appears a napkin calculation was made on the following assumptions.

An estimate of 70 million eligible voters to register at 119,973 Polling Units would mean 584 an average of registrants per DDC machine and if each registrant completed registration in 10 minutes in an efficient Polling Unit we can assume the DDC would perform for 6,000 minutes or 60 hours.

This spread over 15 days would be 4 hours of work effective work a day and since polling units would be open for 8 hours a day, most of the registrations would have been done within the first week.

The reality with all the issues that have arisen has had INEC asking for an additional week of registrations to cost NGN 6.6 billion.

To suggest this has been a Project Management debacle bordering on a farce is to compliment the exercise with sarcasm to laughable for the ears; the whole event might well be redeemed, since some really though the whole project would never take off.

#JegaSays Many international agencies have sent congratulations on #INECRegistration, as they expected it to fail! #JCEM #RSVP

Revert to the Guttenberg Press

There have been serious printing issues, first to do with insufficient power from the batteries to run the laptop and the printer, though it appears no questions and answers transpired on the power issue.

The printer ordered - RT @rmajayi: #INECRegistration printer is a HP Deskjet 1000 http://j.mp/gCZAc7 #RSVP #JCEM

#JegaSays #INECRegistration printers can produce 450-500 cards per cartridge but @bubusn says about 110. #JCEM #RSVP

How the professor could be so way off the mark that the ink cartridges were only able to print 22% of their estimated capacity is amazing that you had to give it to him when he came up with this reason for the low performance of the ink cartridges.

On insufficient ink, #JegaSays Due to outdoor #INECRegistration, the heat of the sun caused ink IN printers to cake. #JCEM #RSVP

Genius, which led me to say - @rmajayi Ah! The function of an expert is not to get things right but wrong for more sophisticated reasons. #INECRegistration #JegaSays

Obviously, it would be absurd to suggest that this was a tropically-induced malfunction, but it would be uncouth to shout down the gravitas of a professor.

The other parts of the hearing will be completed in another blog as Part II, this covers the issues of probability, abuse of registration, failsafe mechanisms and registration amelioration procedures.

Nigeria: INEC Memo to Correct Prior Registration without Fingerprints

Provision of Special Registration Circumvention

The 10-fingerprint scan requirement for valid voter registration cards can be waived for those with special circumstances the narrow definition of which would pertain to amputees and those who might have lost fingers and or thumbs leaving them with the inability to provide 10-unique fingerprints from the same person.

Protocols exist to register such persons and there should be accompanying paperwork to describe and explain why the 10-fingerprints could not be captured else that registration is considered grossly deficient and hence void.

Under no circumstances should the fingerprint scanning process be abridged, ignored or circumvented for those who evidently have 10-fingers except in particularly rare circumstances where the whorls are indistinguishable by the system as a result of medically proven ailments like diabetes or high-blood pressure and manually oppressed hands as a result of heavy labour like farming – but that are quite exceptional cases.

Memo for correcting prior registration without fingerprints

On the 20th of January, 2011, INEC released a document entitled Abuse of Special Registration [1] downloadable as a PDF file clearly giving directions as to how to manage the reregistration of those whose original registrations had been voided by the absence of the 10-fingerprint scan.

**** Critical Validation Check ****

You can identify of your Voter’s Registration card is valid by checking that the 5 tiny square boxes aligned vertically on either side of your photograph are all coloured in black for the L (left hand) and the R (right hand).

If any of these boxes are not shaded, your registration is void and you have to return to your original Polling Unit to ameliorate the situation.

Guidelines for re-registration

The guidelines are as follows;

  1. The Assistant Registration Officer (ARO) will check the original voter’s card to ensure that the person is at the right Polling Unit.
  2. Upon confirming that, the ARO will re-register the registrants on the same DDC machine capturing all fingerprints and issue a new Voter’s Registration Card.
  3. The original Voter’s Registration Card will then be destroyed by cutting it through with a pair of scissors.
  4. The ARO should locate the previous registration on FORM EC1A and cancel it with initials indicating the invalidated status.
  5. The registrant’s details are then recorded as a new entry on FORM EC1A.
  6. At the end of the registration period, FORM EC1A and the invalidated Voter’s Registration Cards must be returned to the LGA/State Office.

Reference

[1] INEC Memo Concerning the Abuse of Special Registration

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Nigeria: INEC Voter Registration Review IV

There is much to be done

With two days left for the voters’ registration it is becoming evident that everyone who needs to register might not get that opportunity.

The past weekend offered the opportunity for many to turn up and register but the process was fraught with many reports of printing problems as a result of exhausted ink cartridges.

The sadder aspect of this was that INEC in most cases did not have stocks of spare ink cartridges that the registered voters had to wait for days to collect their registration cards. Some more resourceful Nigerians paid for ink cartridges themselves.

The power issues do not seem to have dominated the news wires anymore because the same resourceful Nigerians have provided power through generators or extension cables to help keep the process moving.

A probable extension looms

The queues are however getting longer and though the process of registration is easier and faster, it is unlikely that those who have left it so late would gain a reprieve without an extension of the voters’ registration exercise.

To this end, the legislative houses have tentatively agreed to an extension having met with the INEC Chairman who said he needs another week and NGN 6.6 billion extra to do this.

One is taken aback that INEC could have exhausted their budget without contingencies that they have to return cap-in-hand to seek more funding.

The figures bandied around indicate that less than 50% of the expected populace that fall within voting age are registered; it would in the long run lead to questions about the credibility of the elections whilst allowing for opportunities to rig the elections.

Fingered errors

At the meeting of the legislators we learnt that the original registration of the president at his hometown did not include his fingerprints and that he had to do it again.

Amelioration processes for entering fingerprints for those registered without then in the first place seem to have problems, you can check of all your fingerprints have been captured on your card by checking is the 5 small squares on either side of your photograph on your voter’s card are black or hollow squares. They need to be dark for your registration to be valid.

The Chairman also volunteered after having stated on BBC Africa Have Your Say; that amputees and those with special needs would be catered for that there really was no provision for them, which is sad.

Another issue that has raised concern is that of Muslim women in religious garb that includes the covering of the face. Some are advocating their right to be registered which is inalienable but how do you recognise the face of someone behind a veil? There is a need for common-sense and reasonableness in terms of religious adherence and the understanding ones civics responsibilities which invite some compromise.

Security issues were prevalent, some machine were stolen and found in the strangest of places, Youth Corps members were attacked by agree crowds and some INEC personnel have lost their lives, which is unfortunate.

Security issues were prevalent, some machine were stolen and found in the strangest of places, Youth Corps members were attacked by agree crowds and some INEC personnel have lost their lives, which is unfortunate.

Reconstituting an extension

However, the most critical matter has to be the one of the extension of the voters’ registration exercise beyond Saturday the 29th of January 2011. Some had irresponsibly announced on Twitter that it had been extended for 4 weeks when that was not the case.

There are serious constitutional provisions for the extension, INEC was running this exercise on a very tight schedule, and the registration as far as the Electoral Act 2010 is concerned expects that the exercise be completed no later than 60 days before the election that utilises the register putting the last possible date at the 2nd of February 2011.

The legislature would either have had to shorten that duration between registration and elections or reschedule the election timetable after which INEC can announce the extension.

Government 101 and Project Management

The issue of the closed schools also came up since in most cases school premises were not in use and professional teachers were not engaged in the registration process. There are reasons why the schools have remained closed but for the Senate to order the Minister of Education to open to the schools rather than advise her of the need to smacked of an overreach of the Separation of Powers.

The infancy of our democratic process is so evident with poor appreciation of the rule of law, the egress of the lack of understanding of the Separation of Powers and feeling that grandstanding equals due process.

If this INEC Voter Registration process fails it would clearly be a case of atrocious Project Management on an appalling scale, there probably is a way to redeem this exercise but it requires that Nigerians who have not registered turn out in droves to register showing there is much to be done, that they will not be disenfranchised and forcing the necessary extension to capture the majority of the voting population to act for choosing the government they want and deserve.

References with developing stories

Nigerian #INECRegistration BiDaily – Published AM & PM with an average of 150 contributions

Reps amend Electoral Act to allow more time for registration | 234Next.com

Voter Registration: INEC Has No Right To Extend Time

Voter registration: Jega wants N6.6bn for extension | Tribune Nigeria

» Voters’ Registration: Lagos suspends restriction of movement on sanitation day - Vanguard (Nigeria)

If #INECRegistration should stop no longer than 60 days before elections, it cannot be extended beyond 02/02/2011 http://j.mp/fBcPUi Page 3

#INECRegistration Has No Right To Extend Time http://bit.ly/eB4D5M Constitutional issue could include changing election timetable.

Thought Picnic: I am available, let's talk

What I have to give

Each time I have the opportunity to return to the market at the end of a project I wonder about what it is I can give to those that could use my skills.

My skills acquired over 22 or so years of working in IT, maybe skills of a lifetime too because a good deal of how I project myself comes from everything that makes the person that I am.

Behind the fa├žade of assuredness about ones abilities lays a niggling concern about relevance, you read the job offers and measure yourself against the requirement wondering if you do match them or you are extending yourself beyond your capabilities.

I am able

Now, I believe I have always risen to the challenges in terms of projects or problems put my way for solutions or innovative ideas.

The whole workshop of my expertise is brought to bear in crafting the concept, the process, the workflow, the solution and the implementation giving due consideration to maintaining operational effectiveness whilst improving the environment.

However, I have somehow been unable to put that level of passion into my marketing literature, my curriculum vitae shows so much but probably does not reveal enough about my usefulness.

Looking further afield

In some cases, I tap my resource of professional contacts built over the years who have been my source of jobs in the last 15 years, but in tougher times, the net has to widen to include new contacts and people who hardly know what I can do and probably may never appreciate that who they are getting is a lot more than what they are seeing.

Sometimes I feel I am a man of many abilities without a coherent channel of expression, it becomes a bother gnawing at my confidence and contributing to my sense of uncertainty.

Yet, I believe, things would turn out right, I just have to keep letting people know I can bring something valuable to the table and it would be of use, worthwhile and of good quality helping their organisation be better at what they do.

Maybe it is also time to begin something anew, my ideas of what makes for the conversion of crazy ideas into viable solutions – that is a process towards avoiding irrelevance.

In any case, I am ready for a new job, can we talk?

Reference

LinkedIn Profile