By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has sought collaboration of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited on satellite coverage for successful electronic transmission of general elections results in 2019.
NIGCOMSAT is a communications satellite operator and service provider under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Technology.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the request during a visit to the NIGCOMSAT Managing Director, Mrs Abimbola Alade, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Yakubu said while INEC appreciated the tremendous reach of the telecommunications operators, some Polling Units were still located in places where third and fourth generation networks were not available for real time electronic transmission of results.
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“It is for this reason that we wish to leverage on the capacity of NIGCOMSAT to provide a wide range of telecommunication services.
“In particular, your broadband service offers a tremendous flexible bandwidth capacity that can be deployed quickly to almost anywhere, including hard-to-reach and temporary locations.
“These are invaluable to the work of INEC.
“Working in partnership with the Nigerian Communication Commission as well as the telecommunication operators, we believe the challenges to the seamless transmission of results are not insurmountable.
“We are similarly aware that NIGCOMSAT has the capacity for Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting, multimedia, video streaming, hotspot, event services, in-door and outdoor electronic message display.
“These services are invaluable to our work and mobilisation for elections.’’
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Yakubu also called on NIGCOMSAT to assist INEC with satellite coverage of polling units without strong network coverage, as well as voter sensitisation and education.
“As we prepare for the 2019 general elections, INEC wishes to collaborate with NIGCOMSAT in the following areas:
“Extension of satellite coverage in areas currently not covered by 3G and 4G network (the so called black spots) so that INEC can transmit election results from polling units nationwide irrespective of location.
“INEC (also) wishes to collaborate with NIGCOMSAT on voter education and sensitisation through electronic message display.’’
In her response, Alade said NIGCOMSAT was ready to partner with INEC to ensure seamless real time electronic transmission of election results.
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“We are very delighted that we can be of service to you and to be able to drive the democracy of Nigeria to a new and greater height.
“We want to be your partner; we want to work with you.
“I know you want to transmit all results electronically, you want to be as transparent as possible; we are ready to partner with you.’’
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Mr Nnaemego obiora, a Senior Manager in NIGCOMSAT Engineering Services Department, in his presentation said that the company with its NigComSat-1R satellite had the network coverage capacity required for seamless transmission of results nationwide.
“The coverage of the satellite is total. We recognise that INEC needs to cover the whole country including newly developed areas.
“NIGCOMSAT does not have network cover or black spot; we have the products and services that can help INEC to deliver on its mandates,’’ Obiora said.