Officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission on Friday, July 16, 2021, summoned and questioned by the House of Representatives over the suitability of the use of electronic devices for the transmission of election results in the country as part of ongoing discussion in the House as being provided in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The House had, on Thursday, July 15, 2021, invited the NCC to brief it on the nation’s network coverage before continuing debate on the contentious provision of electronic transmission of results during elections.
With regards the bone of contention – Electronic Transmission of Election Results – the Commission told the House of Representatives that less than 50% of Nigeria is covered by the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology (3G internet service), presumed to be the minimum required service to carried out such real-time results transmission.
The Commissin was represented before the House members by Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC and Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, the executive commissioner, Stakeholder Management.
Maska, who spoke on behalf of the team, told members that less than 50% of the country enjoys 3G Internet coverage for which electronic transmission of results could rely on.
He said as at 2018, when the Commission carried out a survey of 109,000 polling units, of the country’s 119,000 polling units were covered.
He said the surveyed polling unit areas were covered mostly by the 3G and 2G networks, which represents about 50.3% of the entire country.
According to Maska, about 49.7% of the national spread did not have Internet coverage, which will be required for real-time electronic transmission of electoral results.
Asked if 2G technology could be used for electronic transmission of results, Engr. Maska said though he wished the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was around to answer, however, only 3G could transmit results effectively.
Meanwhile, the Upper Chamber – The Senate – had on the same day voted for the conditional electronic transmission of election results.
At the end of voting, 28 Senators mostly from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voted for the original amendment in the report while 52 Senators backed the amendment as proposed by Senator Sabi Abdullahi.
This means the majority of Senators voted that INEC may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by NCC and approved by the National Assembly.