INEC Targets UN System -How Haier, Zinox, Avant Made Shortlist

Computing

Fresh facts have emerged on how China-based computer manufacturer, Haier, US-based Avant Technology and Nigerian-owned Zinox Computers were shortlisted for the supply of 132,000 units of Direct Digital Data Capture (DDC) machines for the voter registration.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has sent requests for quotations (RFQs) to the three shortlisted firms, and THISDAY can confirm that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), otherwise known as the Due Process Office, will take a final decision on the award of the contracts today.
The decision will be communicated to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval at next week's council meeting.
INEC, which had earlier sent an RFQ to Lenovo, a Beijing, China-based original equipment manufacturer, recommended Haier for the supply of the bulk of the equipment based on the company's track record with the United Nations.
THISDAY learnt that INEC had made contact with foreign embassies in Nigeria seeking advice on how to procure the equipment in record time because of the urgency associated with the preparations for the 2011 general election.
INEC got in touch with the UN procurement system because of the organisation's global experience in conducting elections, especially in difficult circumstances.
Haier, one of China's Top 100 IT companies, specialises in technology research, manufacture industry, trading and financial services. Its Thermocool refrigerators and freezers are produced under licence in Nigeria by PZ.
The track record of Haier is said to have impressed INEC, which also discovered that the Chinese company has the capacity to produce all the DDC machines it requires for voter registration.
INEC is said to have been swayed by the ability of the company to meet the deadline because it could be too risky to entrust the project to a contractor who may not be able to deliver in record time.
However, in asking Haier to quote for 90,000 units and Avant 20,000 units, INEC also asked Zinox to quote for 22,000 units because of the agitation for local content in the contracts.
Although only 120,000 units would be needed for the registration, INEC has made plans for 132,000 in the event of breakdowns and redundancy.
In another development, INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega yesterday raised hopes that the commission could use the Modified Open Ballot System in the conduct of the 2011 general election.
However, he said that the extant law in the statute book is the Open Secret Ballot System.
Jega, who spoke when a delegation of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) led by Pastor Tunde Bakare visited him, said: "The legal framework on the mode of election currently provided for is what is called the open secret ballot system. You are calling for a Modified Open Ballot System; we go and look at it.
"If there is call for it within the legal framework, and we do the cost benefit analysis and we weigh all the pros and cons and it turns out to be the best, certainly, we will give it the consideration it deserves."
MOBS allows accreditation of voters and voting to take place at the same time nationwide, with the votes counted and scores announced on the spot.
But the current system allows voters to vote at various times before 1pm and they are to disperse immediately after voting without waiting for the announcement of the results.
On the funding of election monitors, Jega said that the commission would no longer fund the activities of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that monitor the elections.
He promised to help the election monitors in areas of logistics, but categorically said: "Don't expect INEC to pay your bills, we cannot foot their bills."
Jega said a mechanism had been put in place to check the activities of the staff of the commission that are corrupt.
According to him, there are in-built checks and balances, and any member of staff caught in the act would "face the music".
He said that the era of the Resident Electoral Commissioners and Electoral Officers of the commission conniving is a thing of the past. Earlier, Bakare had brought to the attention of the commission a six-point case to be addressed to checkmate rigging.
The six issues are: the Modified Open Ballot System, connivance of election monitors and observers with the state governments to rig the election, management of security personnel during election, connivance of resident electoral commissioners and electoral officers to rig election.