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2023: How space technology can aid free, fair elections-NASRDA

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By IJEOMA OLORUNFEMI

ABUJA- The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) said that space technology had the capacity to monitor elections for minimised malpractices.

Dr Bonaventure Okere, the Director of Centre for Basic Space Science (CBSS), an activity centre of NASRDA, said this on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Okere, while not undermining the efforts of the electoral umpire, said that every aspect of human existence survived on space technology.

The director said that satellite technologies could be deployed as tools to properly outline polling units according to the settlement in any given location.

“By deploying space technology, we can monitor elections on a real-time basis using drones and intrusion alert systems that can relay images and voice notes to the control center.

“By the use of electronic voting and synchronisation of databases, it will ensure that anyone can vote from any polling unit.

“It will ensure minute by minute monitoring of results and with this there won’t be a need for collation of results because results will be displayed, tabulated and summed as votes are cast,’’ he said.

Okere also said that the use of drones while elections were ongoing could help to0 detect malpractices.

Okere added that the electoral commission could adopt customised Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and Point of Sale (POS) for the electorate.

According to him, the individual’s Personal Identification Number (PIN) will not allow for the cards to be manipulated.

On research initiatives made by the centre recently, Okere said that the centre had developed Optical Telescopes and Mobile Radio Telescopes for Astronomy research.

“The telescope, when commercialised, will not be expensive, it should cost between N10,000 to N20,000.

“It was produced without a motorised stand which makes it easier to use and it is 80mm, bigger than the regular telescopes and has a better view,’’ he said.

The director, however, urged the Federal Government to buy-in the local initiative, adding that mass producing it could generate some level of income for the country.

Okere said: “The Ministries of Education as well as Science Technology and Innovation can decide to make this available for every school.

“Basic science requires moon viewing, viewing of things around the Earth, the moon, stars, and the planet generally, so the telescope can be used to monitor it.’’

He added that they had designed space science research spin-offs like Automatic Irrigation Systems (AIS), Intrusion alert systems, High precision GPS, Gravimeter and Magnetometer, among others.

“Through the organisation of space science education, workshops and outreach activities, CBSS pioneered the Pan African School for emerging Astronomers (PASEA).

“Currently, CBSS is collaborating with the East African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development, South African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development and Botswana International University of Science Technology.

“The collaboration led to the award of a European Union (EU) mobility grant for students and lecturers in Africa.

“The grant is under Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) and three Nigerian students are on scholarship in various universities in Africa through this grant,’’ Okere said.

According to him, this collaboration had yielded two more European mobility grants for students and lecturers.

Okere added that the grants were known as FAST4FUTURE and Erasmus Mundi mobility grants. (NAN)

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