Tuesday 18 January 2011

Nigeria: INEC Voter Registration Review II

INEC finds a scapegoat

One has to spare a thought for the humble youth corps members press-ganged into the service of the nation to help in the INEC voter registration process then pilloried as cretins by the chieftains of INEC for the abject failings of their project.

It is appalling that a Prince Solomon Soyebi who happens to have the grandiose and inflated title of National Commissioner in charge of Information and Publicity for INEC called a press conference to address the problem with the DDC machines and in a derisive and denigrating tone suggested [1] that the youth corps members were the primary cause of the problems.

In his words, “the Commission overrated the Corps members mobilised for the exercise, thinking that they knew the workings of the computer-based equipment.”

I would proffer that the first law of project management is – Do NOT assume anything at the onset. Else by decomposition you make an ass of u and me.

He went on to say, “We assumed that these Corps members should know how to operate a simple machine, like the DDC machine, in addition to the training that they had, but, unfortunately, they disappointed us. We discovered they could not and many of them had to be battling with it, unsuccessfully.”

The blame is squarely on INEC

This is a classic case of a well-financed authority that scrimps and scrapes on resources looking for cheap labour, investing little in their training and then expecting them to perform fully motivated with excellence.

I have to commend the youth corps members that that have been despite that opprobrium heaped on them by that wretched ungrateful organisation, they have been very resourceful, highly motivated, extremely enthusiastic, taken beatings to the failings of INEC in some places and still dedicated themselves to service with I dare say, patriotic fervour.

INEC however, once again blames others for the malfunctioning of inadequate systems and the tedious banking processes for not paying the youth corps members on time.

You begin to wonder when INEC will make a clean breast of things and accept responsibility for their unprofessionalism and the less that supportive stance they have taken with regards to the people who are supposed to make them main goal of effective voter registration achievable.

Technical problems requiring a software upgrade

One is however left confused with what the problem really is when the Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu suggests [2] that the problems are technical rather than the one of stupid staff.

In any case, one wonders why INEC has two mouth organs who appear to be speaking with a forked tongue.

However, it took the chagrin of the Senate President who had attempted twice to register and failed to elicit the real truth behind the technical problems and that came from the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Benue State, Alhaji Nasiru Ailara, and he said as he scampered and groveled at the residence of the eminent personality, “We have identified the problem, and provided a solution with new software that would address the problem. Please accept our apology for inconveniences.”

The problem, not a problem – the software needs to be upgraded, now how youth c corps members orpers were supposed to rewrite buggy software on-the-fly to redeem the sinking image of INEC escapes me but we should not let INEC get away with the blame culture.

They sent people out, unpaid, unsupported, untrained and poor equipped with sub-standard equipment and expected miracles – I forgot, we are in Nigeria, they were sent out on w wing and a prayer.

Tips and trips

However, new directives have been drawn up to help facilitate the registration process.

  • Hands must be washed and clean before arriving at the registration centre, I would say good Samaritans should also make that available at the centre just in case having been in queues perspiration had soiled the fingers.
  • The resolution (I wonder if that is sensitivity or pitch) of the fingerprint scanner has been reduced.
  • The scanning must be done in the shade.
  • Absurdly, the fingerprints should be taking standing up – you have to laugh
  • Find your local registration centre here - Zoom in the GoogleMap to your Nigerian Polling Unit (INEC) -http://bit.ly/ewXgvA

Ask questions

There are lessons learnt and INEC is slowing addressing them but they have not broached the matter of people who have obtained registration cards without fingerprinting and there rumour about the suspension of that requirement that was spread yesterday has not been corroborated by any of these officials.

Professor Attahiru Jega will be on BBC Africa Have Your Say [3] at 1600GMT on Tuesday 18th January; you have the opportunity to ask him some questions live or via Twitter with the #ASKINEC hashtag and he better have an apology, some encouragement and gratitude for the services of the youth corps members striving to save the battered reputation of the organisation he runs and that of himself.


[1] The Nation - INEC blames hitches on Youth Corps members

[2] allAfrica.com: Nigeria: INEC Moves to Eliminate Hitches

[3] BBC - Africa Have Your Say: What do you want to ask Nigeria's INEC chairman?

Read the Nigerian #INECRegistration BiDaily which is published in morning and evening editions aggregating Twitter feeds related to the registration exercise.

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