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Has IT failed in DDC machine?

The Digital Data Capture machine (DDC) had been in the news for various reasons in the last few months. 
Reasons for its popularity started with the bid and award of the contract to three companies: Haier, Avante and Zinox Technologies, a local company and its non functionality broke the camel’s back.

At a point, when it appeared that millions of Nigerians could not be registered, Zinox Chairman, Leo Stan Ekeh appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience, while noting that the DDC machine was a technology driven process that required practice and experience to get it right. He revealed that the delays experienced by people were not caused by hardware but software.

 Stan Ekeh, who spoke at Kaakaki, a television programme explained that scanners were calibrated by INEC to achieve a high resolution of finger prints and this led to initial delays. He also noted that the equipments were installed in the dusty harmattan and hot sun conditions that could wear down most electronic appliances, while pointing out the fact that these machines were run ten hours at a stretch on batteries, an unusual contraption in most parts of the world.
“Batteries are supposed to be back-ups but here they are the main supply of power because of our peculiar energy situation. The hardware used was of the highest international quality with the extra strength to stand the rigors of the Nigerian setting”.

However recent statement by the publisher of Champions newspapers, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu may have irked the sensibilities of information technology (IT) professionals that IT has failed in Nigeria and that the country should revert to manual registration was now making ripples in the IT sector. Even the request of N6.6 billion by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor. Attahiru Jega for the extension of voters registration exercise did not give the required reaction from stakeholders.

Stakeholders in the sector have noted that several things went wrong in the implementation of the exercise. Daily Sun also reliably gathered that INEC supplied the cheapest software that was developed in –house while Zinox and Haier supplied the hardware. However, Avante, a foreign company and the third that won the award was yet to deliver its 20 units of DDC machines even as at the time of filling this report.

According to the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) there was lack of transparency in the whole process because INEC failed to use IT professionals to train corpers as well as it refusal to involve IT professionals in matters that bothers on IT.
NCS reiterated that deploying IT to take the country to the next level could never be a failure, rather there were several issues ranging from political consternations, personal agenda, systematic maneuver and party interest.

NCS President, Charles Uwadia noted that it was saddening that multiple registration of a person was done .He explained that if IT professionals were fully involved in the planning and implementation of the exercise, the gridlocks would have been averted.
“Prof.Jega did not get things right at all because if Maurice Iwu had gone, people expect that Jega to be better. We had observed that the ICT consultant was not a registered member of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN).

We had also observed that two of the contracting firms Avante International technology and Haier Electrical Appliances Corps limited were not registered with the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN).With these acts, it was clear to us that INEC had downgraded the critical issue of Computer Professionalism as regulated under Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Act 49 of 1993. 

“We had in the circumstance demanded from INEC then that all personnel carrying out core IT Professional duties in the Commission must be registered professionals as stipulated in Act 49 of 1993 and all persons to interface and operate the DDC must be trained and certified by professional institutions registered by CPN. Subsequently, only registered members of the Computer Profession should be considered for jobs involving computing machinery”.
It was unfortunate according to a stakeholder, who does not want his name on print that during the supposed training for corpers only two or three understands what it was all about.

“There were no slides or projectors anywhere to drive home the point at the various centres that cut across the country. You could imagine , in a hall of over 300 people, only two people understands what it was all about and after the second or third day these people were asked to practicalise what they had learnt. DDC machine is a national emergency that should be treated as such”.
Uwadia reiterated that the Voters registration exercise was fully situated within the IT domain and ought to have been treated as such but unfortunately that was not the case.

“INEC, under the leadership of Professor Attahiru Jega, has so far kept IT professional bodies (NCS and CPN) at bay for reasons best known to it. If we are to answer the question which many Nigerians have been asking as to what went wrong in spite of the enormous fund committed to the exercise, the simple answer will be that INEC failed or refused to involve IT professionals in a matter that bothers heavily on professionalism”.
On the way forward, he postulated that INEC should be transparent and fully unfold its strategies for deploying IT for the entire electoral process so that professionals could offer advice and support as deemed necessary and appropriate.

-Sun

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Posted by on Feb 15 2011. Filed under Elections 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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