Federal legislator tasks NCC on improved telecoms network coverage across Nigeria

*The Nigerian Communications Commission must begin aggressive action that will ensure 100 percent network coverage before 2023 General Elections, says Femi Bamisile, member of the House of Representatives

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Describing adequate telecoms network coverage as a necessity in electoral system reforms, Hon. Femi Bamisile, a member of the House of Representatives, in the National Assembly (NASS), Abuja, FCT, has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the need for aggressive spread of telecommunication networks across the country.

ConsumerConnect learnt the Federal lawmaker and erstwhile Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, representing Ekiti South Federal Constituency II, stressed this is imperative in view of the need to accommodate electronic voting in the 2023 General Elections.

Hon. Femi Bamisile, a member of House of Representatives

Hon. Bamisile, who stated this recently when distributing free petrol to 1,000 commercial motorcycle (otherwise known as Okada) operators in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, observed that without sufficient network coverage by NCC as the country’s telecoms regulator, over 37 million Nigerians might be disenfranchised, if electronic voting is adopted for the 2023 polls.

E-voting is now what is in vogue globally, which Nigeria must embrace, said he.

He noted: “It is the best option for Nigeria; but a situation where only 50 percent of our voting population have access to network makes it impracticable now.

“About 37 million of our voting population will be shut out of the electoral system.

Related: Regulator clarifies adequate 3G network required for e-transmission of vote in Nigeria

“But the NCC, as a Federal Government’s regulatory agency, must begin aggressive action that will ensure 100 percent network coverage before 2023 elections. Nigeria has no excuse than to embrace e-voting in 2023.”

Recall the regulator recently clarified to members of the House of Representatives in the National Assembly (NASS), that the country requires 3G network for e-transmission of vote in the country.

Electronic Voting Machines    Photo: TechpointAfrica

The NCC stated that only 50 percent of all the polling units have the required 3G network coverage to electronically transmit election results.

Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner (Technical Services) of NCC, in company with Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management of the Commission, who was in the House to testify informed the legislators Friday, July 16, 2021, in Abuja, FCT, that 3G network is needed to conduct electronic transmission.

As the most contentious provision in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which is expected to reform electoral processes in the country, voting on the provision reportedly had caused verbal and physical altercations among the Federal legislators during plenary July 15.

Several lawmakers also have stood against electronic transmission, complaining that their areas around the country do not have telecoms network coverage.

Subsequently, the Legislature invited the NCC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enlighten lawmakers on the burning issue during the plenary.

The NCC Executive Commissioner (Technical Services) said election results could be electronically captured offline in an area with no network coverage, and transmitted by physically moving to a network-covered area.

However, Engr. Maska stated this approach does not compare with “direct transmission from the source”.

The Commission, he said, cannot guarantee that electronic transmission of election results cannot be sabotaged by hackers.

“No system is safe from hacking. Hacking is always a possibility,” the NCC Executive Commissioner (Technical Services) declared.

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