Monday 31 January 2011

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.


[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

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