FG to award contract for printing of 33.5m permanent voters’ cards today

By EMMA UJAH, ABUJA BUREAU CHIEF

ABUJA—Baring last-minute change of mind, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, will today  award the contract for the printing of 33.5 million Permanent Voters’ Cards, preparatory to the 2015 general elections.

Impeccable sources at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, revealed, yesterday, that the nation’s electoral umpire “has fully briefed the Presidency” and that the memo has been prepared for the contract’s consideration today.

Sources said with the level of work done on the procurement process of the printing contract, it should have an easy sail among cabinet ministers when tendered by President Goodluck Jonathan, at the FEC meeting.

Today’s contract for the printing of 33.5 million is the second phase as the FEC had in April, last year, approved the request for the printing of the first phase of 40 million Permanent Voter’s Cards at a cost of N2.6 billion.

That contract was awarded to Messrs ACT Technologies Limited at N65 per card.

According to the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, who briefed newsmen said, INEC has been mandated to print and issue voter cards to all registered voters in the country.

About 73 million temporary voters’ cards were issued to Nigerians that were registered during the 2011 nationwide voter registration.

The printing of the permanent voters’ cards is expected to enhance the nation’s democratic process  and mark another milestone in the march towards credible elections.

Although the Federal Government promised permanent cards containing security features such as hologram, microtext, guilloche, barcode, fingerprints, contactless/embedded chip with printed voter details and photograph that would last for at least 10 years if well protected, sources doubted the features would all be captured in the cards being awarded.

Fears have been particularly raised about the ability of the cards to stem rigging at elections, as they are said not to have adequate features to identify individual voters nor polling unit specific.

If the cards are polling unit specific, it means each can only be used in one of the 119, 973 polling units scattered across the nation.  Anything less than that can hardly stop brazing rigging that has come to be associated with elections in the country, sources said.

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