The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Tuesday flagged off the training of 82 personnel that would be manning it’s e-platforms.
The 82 Information Communication Technology officials would be Registration Area Technical Support (RATECH), the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said.
Yakubu who spoke at the opening of the training of master trainers on election technology for the 2023 general election in Abuja described the training as one of the most important training activities ahead of the 2023 General Election.
He also said that the personnel would in turn train 8,809 Registration Areas (or Wards).
This he said has become necessary with the introduction of more technology in the country’s electoral process.
He said, “Over the last two years, the Commission has increased the deployment of technology in the elections in Nigeria. Systems and portals have been designed and developed to cater for different electoral activities ranging from voter registration and accreditation, result transmission from the polling units, the nomination of candidates by political parties to the accreditation of polling agents, observers and journalists for elections.
“Of these innovations, most Nigerians are more familiar with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which doubles as a device for accreditation as well as the upload of the Polling Unit level result sheets to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal in real-time on election day. “These innovations have increased transparency and public confidence in the electoral process. They are also part of the legal requirements for conducting elections in Nigeria. The combination of the BVAS and the IReV portal have come to stay as a means of voter accreditation and transmission of election results.
“From the experience of recent off-cycle elections, the Commission is convinced that a critical success factor in the deployment of technology in elections is training. We need to build the capacity of the staff involved not only to competently handle the devices during the accreditation process but also respond effectively to any glitches that may occur during elections.
“Our plan for the 2023 General Election is to commence the training of election officials early and for a longer period of time for optimal understanding of the processes and procedures in order to serve Nigerians better. A key component of this effort is election technology.
‘Today, we begin the process with the training of master trainers to serve as Registration Area Technical Support (RATECH). A total of 82 officials drawn from our offices nationwide will form the nucleus of the training. Over the next three days, they will receive intensive hands-on training on the new technology. “Thereafter, they will train more officials at zonal level to cover all the 8,809 Registration Areas (or Wards). In turn, these officials will be involved in the training ad hoc staff for the 176,846 Polling Units nationwide.”
He also reminded the personnel to ensure that they maximize the opportunity the trainingnjas brought their way.
He said, “I urge the 82 staff involved to pay special attention to the training that you will receive at this Workshop. Your role as master trainers is critical to the success of training at subsequent levels and ultimately the successful deployment of the devices during elections. For this reason, the Commission will not accept laxity on your part. Much as we have confidence in your ability to understand and discharge your responsibilities to the officials you will subsequently train, there will be consequences for unethical behaviour or any act of misconduct.”
In his remark, Prof. Abdullah Abdu Zuru, Chairman, Board of the Electoral Institute said, “the special training and retraining of all categories of electoral personnel for delivery of effective and efficient electoral services at all levels is a standing principle of the Commission.
“Its underlying philosophy is to ensure that Election officials imbibe the right knowledge, skill sets and attitude needed for the discharge of their duties and responsibilities towards the conduct of free, fair, credible, inclusive and transparent elections, Mathematically, we say good training = competent personnel = credible process = acceptable election = happy Nation.
“As we are all aware, the Commission will deploy several technologies in the conduct of the 2023 General elections in compliance with Sections 47(2), 60(4) and 64(4) of the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of Elections, 2022.
‘Therefore, this training is of utmost significance as it further builds your capacity as the Commission’s Master Trainers who coordinate training at strategic levels, thereby enhancing the credibility and integrity of the electoral process.
“Particularly significant are the Electronic Voters Register (EVR), Permanent Voters Card (PVC), Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV) which are the determinants of the true winner of an election: they ensure that every valid vote counts.
“Therefore, it is imperative for relevant election officials to not only know how to use these equipment but also have a very good working knowledge of what to do when any malfunctions.
“Therefore, in the course of these two days, you will be “grilled and drilled” on the nitty-gritty of the features, functionality, utilization and maintenance of these equipment. The Commission will rely on you to cascade these trainings down the line to the about one million Adhoc Staff who will be the FACE of the Commission to the voter. “They are the ones to use these equipment to accredit the voter, count his vote, record his vote and transmit the result to the collocation Centres where they will be tallied to determine the winner. It is absolutely necessary and important that they know and understand how to use these equipment. “Consequently, I strongly urge you to take this training seriously and give it the utmost attention it deserves. I implore you to interrogate the technologies and all potential issues that might arise during their deployment for the 2023 General Elections.”
In his good will message, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) Nigeria Country Director, Seray Jah, said that the training is significant as it presents a huge opportunity for the Commission to enhance the transparency and credibility of elections through the deployment of technology on a large scale for the conduct of the 2023 General elections, using the Electoral Act 2022.
The training he said, “would help the Commission to generate a pool of master trainers that will support the cascade training of over 10, 000 technical support staff across the 36 states and the FCT, for the 2023 General elections. The skills gathered here by the master trainers who have been carefully selected by the Commission would be useful in training the Registration Area Technical Support Staff (RATechSS) who will be deployed during the elections to troubleshoot issues arising from technological devices deployed during the 2023 General elections.
“Therefore, I want to use this opportunity once again to restate IFES’ commitment to continue partnering with INEC and its members in building a sustainable democracy in Nigeria, INEC can count on our readiness to continually partner with the commission in achieving its mission of serving as an independent and effective Election Management Body committed to conducting free, fair, and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.”
Speaking on the objectives of the training programme, INEC Director ICT, Paul Omokore said As the 2023 General Elections draw near, the technological processes need to be well understood, as well managed.
The primary aim/objective of the training is to enable the Trainees to be able to deploy the new technology for the improvement of the country’s electoral process, which is the core value of the commission.
He therefore said that the target group for the training is the 2023 Election Technologies Trainers, Registrations Areas Technical Support Staff (RATechSS) that are going to be deployed to provide Technical Support to polling units staff, collation staff at RA and LGA levels for the 2023 General elections.
The training he also said will help in the area of transfer of knowledge, something he said “is key to the success of any technological advancement. This training will equip participants with the necessary knowledge, skills, competence, and confidence to become an effective Trainer.”
The training, he also said is to enable the Commission to build a pool of competent Trainers who can then impact the knowledge to others.
The newly introduced technology are the Bimodal Voter Accreditation system(BVAS) and INEC result Viewing Portal (IREV).