The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again expressed its preference for the deployment of technology in managing Nigeria’s complex electoral process, saying it is better than the best manual process.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja during a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) said with its Automatic Biometric Identification System (ABIS), INEC has been able to weed out multiple registrants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) ahead of the area council polls.
INEC position comes hours after President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which contained clauses on the use of electronic transmission of results and imposition of direct primaries on political parties.
Yakubu added that the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which has now replaced the Smart Card Reader for verification and authentication of voters have come to stay.
He said, “As you are aware, the commission piloted two important technological innovations in the Anambra State Governorship election.
“The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) was deployed for the first time in a major election after the successful pilot in the Isoko South I State Constituency in Delta State in September this year.
“The BVAS has replaced the Smart Card Reader for verification and authentication as part of our improved voter accreditation process. The new technology was designed in-house by INEC engineers.
“Like every new technology, glitches were observed and important lessons learnt.
“We wish to assure Nigerians that the commission has reviewed the performance of the BVAS in Anambra State and there will be a tremendous improvement leading to optimal performance in future elections.
“The BVAS has come to stay. So too is the uploading of Polling Unit results on the INEC Result Viewing IReV portal in real-time on Election Day.
“We are convinced that the introduction of technology in voter accreditation and result management is better than the best entirely manual process.
“It also increases public confidence in the process. We will continue to deepen the use of technology in our elections.
“The second technological innovation introduced in the Anambra Governorship election went virtually unnoticed by many Nigerians.
“For some time now, dedicated portals were created by commission to handle a different aspect of the electoral process.
“For instance, the nomination of candidates by political parties, including the uploading of nomination forms, is now done online.
“So too is the accreditation of election observers and the media. In addition, and for the first time in the history of the commission, the accreditation of polling and collation agents nominated by political parties was done online.
“This has ensured that all such agents were provided with identification tags bearing not only their party logos, names and other personal details but personal photographs as well.
“In all, the commission issued 63,745 identification tags to agents of the 18 political parties that sponsored candidates for the election.
“This has sanitised the process and made the identification of ghost party agents easier. We will maintain the same arrangement for all forthcoming elections, including the 2023 General Election.
“Turning to the CVR, we have now completed the Second Quarter of the exercise which commenced online in June and physically at designated centres in July. We have also been giving Nigerians weekly updates for the last six months.
“The Third Quarter of the exercise will commence in January next year. The commission is aware that Nigerians would like to know when the exercise will be devolved beyond our state and local government offices to enable more citizens to register.
“Secondly, for those already registered, they would like to know when their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) will be available for collection. The commission is working on these concerns and issues and will issue a comprehensive schedule for both activities early in the New Year.
“Meanwhile, in view of the forthcoming Area Council Elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) scheduled for 12th February, 2022, involving 68 constituencies to elect 6 Area Council Chairmen and 62 Councillors, the CVR exercise was suspended nine days ago i.e. 60 days to the election as required by law.
“A total of 42,986 Nigerians completed their registration in the FCT. The commission has diligently cleaned up the data using our new Automatic Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to weed out multiple registrations.
“As a testimony to the efficacy of our ABIS process, 14,665 (34.1%) multiple registrations were detected and rejected. Consequently, the number of new valid registrants in the FCT is 28,321.
“Added to this figure are requests for transfer of registrations to FCT, replacement of lost or damaged PVCs and update of voter records, making an overall total of 39,208 new PVCs to be printed.
“I am glad to report that all the PVCs will be available for collection from 6th January, 2022 until 4th February, 2022. The FCT Office of the commission will provide full details of the locations and procedure for the collection of the PVCs in earnest.
“I urge all new voters to seize the opportunity to collect their voters’ cards ahead of the deadline and avoid last minute rush that characterized such exercise in the past.
“You may recall that in June this year, the commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Ekiti Governorship election holding on 18th June, 2022, and the Osun Governorship election scheduled for 16th July, 2022.
“A major activity for the two governorship elections is the conduct of primaries by political parties for the nomination of candidates for the election.
“For Ekiti State, the exercise begins in the next two weeks on 4th January, 2022, and ends on 29th January, 2022.
“In the case of Osun State, party primaries begin on 16th February, 2022 and ends on 12th March, 2022.
“In addition, there are eight pending bye-elections involving three Federal Constituencies (Jos North/Bassa in Plateau State, Akure North/Akure South in Ondo State and Ogoja/Yala in Cross River State) and five state constituencies (Shinkafi in Zamfara State, Ekiti East I in Ekiti State, Akpabuyo in Cross River State, Pankshin South in Plateau State and Giwa West in Kaduna State).
“The commission wishes to remind political parties that in choosing their candidates for these elections, they must abide by the provisions of the law, INEC’s regulations and guidelines as well as their constitutions and guidelines.
“INEC will monitor the primaries as required by law. Political parties must therefore hold themselves to the same high standard of free, fair, transparent and credible elections that they expect from INEC during general elections.
“Any political party that fails to conduct democratic primaries within the timeframe provided in the commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities cannot be expected to submit the names of candidates to INEC for elections.
“In addition to these off-cycle elections, we must also continue to prepare for the 2023 General Election.
“We have so many physical facilities to rebuild, materials to replace, regulations and guidelines to work on, consultations with stakeholders to strengthen, capacity of our staff to enhance and several aspects of election administration to improve upon. Next year is therefore going to be a very busy year for us”, he added.
LGA Boss Vows To Deliver Fubara, Others In Rivers
The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State, Hon. Akara Okechukwu, has reiterated that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would win all positions from governor to state House of Assembly.
He stated that the foundation of victory had been laid by the Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, following his infrastructure development successes in the state.
Okechukwu said this while reacting after the state PDP campaign team visited his area, last Saturday, saying that the people of Oyigbowere ready to reciprocate what the present administration has done for the LGA in every aspect.
“I have no fear, and I am convinced that the Governorship candidate of PDP Siminialayi Fubara and other state candidates of the PDP will win.
“The people of Oyigbo have vowed to vote massively for PDP because that is the only way to pay back Governor Wike for his good works, mostly in Oyigbo.
“As I speak, 95percent of people living in the area have their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), and this indicates sure victory for our great party. I thank the people for coming out enmasse for the campaign, I am really happy,” Okechukwu said.
Speaking, Chairman, Revenue Committee of the LGA, Senibo Daniel Chijindu, described the massive turn out as historic, saying that it was an indication of total victory.
“I will say that the massive turn out of people was historic because this is the first time people came out enmasse for campaign. Honestly, this is an indication that Oyigbo was ‘Simplified’ and was totally for PDP.
“Governor Wike has given Rivers State, a facelift in all ramifications. That is why Oyigbo people said they are for PDP in totality,” he said.
The revenue boss advised those who register for PVC should go and collect their PVC because that is only way to sustain the good governance of PDP.
Also speaking, former commissioner for commerce and industry and stakeholder of PDP in Oyigbo, Hon. Nancy Nwankwo, said adequate sensitisation has been done for the importance of PVC and vote PDP.
According to her, women in Oyigbowere already prepared to celebrate the victory of SiminialayiFubara come May this year, saying they come out enmasse to vote for PDP.
“I am convinced that SimFubara will do better hence he is civil servant. He has proven his intellectual capacity faithful and truthful to replace Governor Wike,” she said.
By: Tonye Orabere
NCDC Confirms 38 Deaths Of 123 Diphtheria Cases …Says Gaps In Vaccination Coverage Fuelling Outbreak
No fewer than 38 persons have died out of the 123 diphtheria cases recorded in Nigeria so far, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has confirmed.
The states currently facing the disease caused by serious infection of the nose and throat that is easily preventable by vaccine, are Kano, Lagos, Yobe and Osun, respectively.
The nation’s disease control and prevention agency, which disclosed this at a ministerial press briefing, organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, said more cases of the disease were being expected in days ahead, as it spreads to other places.
Speaking through its Director of Special Duties, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe, NCDC said: “As of January 22, NCDC have 123 confirmed cases and 38 deaths. 100 cases are from Kano, with 32 deaths. In Lagos there are five cases with three deaths. In Yobe, there 17 confirmed cases and three deaths, and Osun has recorded one case with no death”.
According to Ibekwe, besides clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases.
Ibekwe said the agency was working with state ministries of health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
She said,”Given the sub-optimal coverage for the third dose of the diphtheria containing pentavalent vaccine (54percent – 2021 MICS & NICS) in the country, we expect more cases from more states.
“The centre has collaborated with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to organize a 5-day workshop on enhancing laboratory diagnosis of diphtheria in Nigeria for laboratory scientists working in NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories and its lab network (this was planned before cases were reported as part of preparedness), and;
“Written to all states HCHs to institute immediate and necessary public health measures for timely detection and response to diphtheria at state level”.
Speaking on measures being put in place to prevent the disease from spreading further, Ibekwe said NCDC has published a public health advisory, accessible on its website, which educates Nigerians on risk factors and offers advice.
She said:”Parents ensuring that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with 3 doses of the pentavalent vaccine. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria”.
She also spoke on how to better understand and contain the prevailing global outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 variants.
She said:”The sub-lineages i.e., XBB.1.5 partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in the US and elsewhere countries have not yet been detected in the country.
“However, this variant has not been associated with increased severity of illness and now appears to be levelling off.
“The variants reported in China so far have been those circulating globally including in Nigeria for some time.”
However, the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the current outbreak of diphtheria in some parts of Nigeria to a drop in the childhood vaccination coverage in some areas of the country.
The Director-General of the Agency, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who spoke about the development on a television programme, said that there were 34 deaths recorded over the weekend from the outbreak which hit four states.
He said due to the effectiveness of the childhood vaccination programme, most people have forgotten what it looks like.
He said, “Diphtheria, a vaccine preventable disease that used to be common decades ago is on the increase in some states in Nigeria. The fact that there is a resurgence suggests that there is significant reduction in vaccination coverage among pockets of the population and this reduced pockets of immunity has given rise to the cases we have seen.
“It is not a matter of diphtheria spreading from state to state, the bacteria that causes the disease is present everywhere and it spreads, and any state in which you find the disease now is likely to be associated with suboptimal vaccination rates, either in general or in particular in pockets of population. Failure of childhood vaccination in the failed states causing the diphtheria outbreaks.
“Kano has highest number of cases followed by Yobe, by weekend, there were 34 deaths in total.”
He warned that although diphtheria was highly preventable and treatable, fatality can increase without antibiotics and appropriate conditions, including the diphtheria antitoxin. He assured that with early detection and prompt treatment, the fatal outcomes are usually low.
Adetifa stressed that the really severe cases require the diphtheria antitoxin, even as he assured that the NCDC had distributed vials of the antitoxin since December for use in Lagos and Kano states, and was planning to extend availability to every state where the disease cases are found.
“It is important that patients should be recognised early, and laboratory confirmation carried out so that treatment can commence immediately.”
Adetifa said there were arrangements for trainings of personnel for laboratory diagnosis of the toxin including testing for most of the clinical effects.
“We are in a good state to help, but patients need to be recognised early and diagnosis made quickly and they are placed on the right treatment.
“We are using the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA data to predict high risk states, there is connection with low socioeconomic situation, and we need to look out for healthcare workers who can be given courses of antibiotics.
Long-Hour Fasting, Danger To Kidney, NAFDAC Warns
The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. MojisolaAdeyeye, has advised Nigerians against subjecting themselves to long-hour fasting, saying it was risky to their kidneys.
Adeyeye, who attributed the high rate of kidney problems in Nigeria to prolonged fasting by some religious adherents, insisted that those subjecting themselves to prolonged fasting on religious grounds must moderate the act.
She spoke in Abuja, yesterday, while briefing the media on the breakthrough by her agency in tracking high consignments of Tramadol and other pharmaceuticals to the Republic of Benin.
On the high rate of kidney problems in the country, she said: “Kidney failure, we are a very religious country- Muslims and Christians fast a lot and it is part of the kidney problem.
“Your body has to have homeomistatic balance, meaning that the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs to function.
“Some people will fast for 10 or 20 days and drink only little water, the kidney is being punished. Now, if you put chemicals in it, it triples in exponential manner, it damages the kidney because the kidney doesn’t have water to dilute and filter.”
Adeyeye, who tasked Nigerians to fast but with common sense, added: “I fast but with common sense. We have to fast with common sense; otherwise we will pay with our kidneys.”
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