Emerging report reveals that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, received N1.47 billion to replace and maintain computer servers for use during the 2019 general elections.
However, this finding raises fresh concerns over the commission’s recent claim it has no server for the elections.
Details of INEC’s budget for the 2019 elections, and the spending plan shows the electoral body collected from the Federal Government N1.47 billion for servers. The Commission requested N2.27 billion.
It is not clear whether these servers were used for the elections , or whether election results were transmitted electronically. INEC insists it did not send results electronically to a server, but some Ad hoc staff used during the polls have claimed they were instructed to send the results to a “Central server”.
A Spokesperson for the Commission, Festus Okoye, disclosed that the budget for servers was made in anticipation that Buhari will sign the amended Electoral Act to allow electronic transfer of voting results.
He stated that the Commission will at the appropriate time explain to Nigerians how it expended the money it got for servers and the entire huge N143.5 billion budget it got for the polls.
Meanwhile, a civil society group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, YIAGA, said that its Observers saw Polling Officers ‘attempting’ to transmit results electronically in 65 percent (961 of 1489) of polling units observed on the Presidential Election Day.
After the postponement of the election by a week, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom, Mike Igini, said the Commission made provisions for a Central Collation server.
“…The fact is that I am aware that at the polling unit, the same result is there, the duplicate has been given to the party agents and transmitted to the central server. Without talking to me, both of you have the result,” the official said during a Channels TV programme aired on February 18.
While it is not clear what servers INEC says it does not have, the budget details, published by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, a civil society group, showed INEC allocated N2.27 billion for servers in the N143.5 billion approved for the commission.
Another N157.5 million was budgeted for the renewal and maintenance of cloud infrastructure.
It was reported last August how the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC approved N143.5 billion for INEC for the 2019 general election as requested by the president.
A breakdown of the budget for servers in the N143.5 billion is as follows:
1. N1.37 billion budgeted for nationwide replacement of servers for 25 States and National Data Centre.
2. N99.7 million budgeted for an upgrade of the server version of OpenVR for compatibility with new Dell server.
3. N157.5 million budgeted for the renewal and maintenance of cloud infrastructure.