The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday received some innovative, technology-driven tools, aimed at enhancing its processes for improved future elections.
The Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), through the acting Head, Development Cooperation of the European Union Delegation, Mr Ruben Aguilera, handed over the tools to the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, as part of its technical support to INEC under the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Phase II project.
Prof. Yakubu, while appreciating the gesture, noted that the EU-SDGN Phase II Project comprised several components, the first of which focuses on support to INEC and administered by the DAI.
The INEC Chairman observed that the support is aimed at “enhancing and strengthening planning and operational capacities; improving the Commission’s internal communication and external engagements with stakeholders; and enhancing the Electoral Institute’s capacity for training and research.”
Other areas include “assisting in the improvement of legal and policy frameworks for the conduct of elections; and enhancing the development and incorporation of technological innovations”.
Speaking on the existing collaboration with DAI and the tools being delivered, the INEC Chairman said: “Within the current electoral cycle, DAI has provided support towards capacity building, technical support, printing of non-sensitive reports and information flyers. We are glad that some of the tools developed in collaboration with DAI are being handed over to the Commission. Among these are: the Collation and Returning Officers Management System (CROMS) intended to streamline, simplify and enhance the security, reliability and credibility of the recruitment process for collation and returning officers; the Election Results Management System (ERMS) which seeks to ensure a better results management process, enhancing accuracy and creating a repository of election results, something envisaged by Section 62 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022”.
Also delivered to the Commission, according to Prof Yakubu were “the Media Monitoring and Analysis Tool intended to enhance the Commission’s capacity to filter media coverage of the Commission; and the Political Parties Financial Reporting and Audit System (PFRAS), which seeks to assist the Commission to monitor political party finance more efficiently and effectively.”
He disclosed that in developing the tools, the DAI consultants worked closely with the Technical Team and Directing Staff of INEC, adding that the tools sought to respond to specific challenges encountered in the implementation of electoral activities, thereby bringing technology to enhance the Commission’s operational effectiveness.
Prof. Yakubu added that the tools were not specifically designed for a particular electoral cycle but could be deployed for future elections and electoral activities. He said that the support to INEC under the EU-SDGN Phase II project covered the period 2022-2027, traversing two electoral cycles (2023 and 2027).
The INEC Chairman, who reiterated the Commission’s readiness for future collaboration with the EU, re-emphasised that the core electoral activities in Nigeria were fully founded by the federal government.
He affirmed: “I must also continue to emphasise that core electoral activities are still funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a sovereign responsibility. It is only funding from Government that is received and administered directly by the Commission.”
Aguilera, in his presentation, explained that the EU was committed to deepening democracy in Nigeria. He said, “we believe that without democracy, there is no way a country can address its citizens’ needs, fulfill its capacity for development and provide opportunities for all”.
He added: “Therefore, we think that strong democratic institutions are the core. And we are really investing and doing our best to provide support in Nigeria for those institutions to get stronger everyday. Stronger Nigeria also means stronger EU and we really hope and sincerely believe that this a common endeavour. The handing over of these management tools is another example of how this collaboration can translate into concrete actions and supports for the benefit of INEC and Nigeria as a whole”.
Joining the INEC Chairman to receive the tools were National Commissioners; Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Rose Oriaran-Anthony, Technical Aides to the INEC Chairman; and other Management staff of the Commission.