Former president's fingerprints trip up Nigerian voter registration machines
Nigeria's voter registration machines reportedly wouldn't recognize ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo's fingerprints.
January 17th, 2011
01:37 PM ET

Former president's fingerprints trip up Nigerian voter registration machines

Voter registration kicked off in Nigeria this weekend, and observers are hoping it's not a harbinger of things to come in April.

According to newspaper reports, former President Olusegun Obasanjo experienced the concerns of many Nigerians when “direct data-capturing machines” rejected his fingerprints.

The Nigerian Compass reported that after the first machine failed to register the ex-president, officials with the Independent National Electoral Commission tried two other scanners, which also malfunctioned.

Worried that Obasanjo’s inability to register could send an ugly message to an already frustrated nation, commission officials pleaded for more time and found an expert who figured out how to register Obasanjo, the Punch, another newspaper, reported.

Obasanjo described the hitches as a “hiccup in the process” and asked Nigerians not to castigate the election commission or electoral process because problems should be expected with any new program.

Senate President David Mark had harsher words after he and his wife, Helen, could not be registered. The newspaper Next reported that he spent three hours trying to register, left, returned hours later and found that the machines were still malfunctioning.

INEC must put its house in order. Otherwise, this whole exercise would be in jeopardy. We cannot afford anything that would threaten the conduct of the forthcoming elections. INEC must sit up and save us this embarrassment,” Next quoted Mark as saying.

Across Nigeria, voters have been taking to Facebook and Twitter to complain that it's taking hours to register. Many reportedly went home unregistered after standing in line all day. Taking hours per registrant can't bode well for the world's eighth-most populous nation and its 152 million people.

Registration is scheduled to end January 29, and the elections for the National Assembly, presidency and governorships/state assembly will be held April 2, 9 and 16, respectively.

Nigeria already has Election Day challenges without the registration snafus. Balloting in 2003, 2004 and 2007 were marred by violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Earlier this month, a special election held in the Niger Delta (prompted because of voting irregularities in 2007) required the deployment of 20,000 police after bomb attacks on political rallies, the BBC reported.

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Filed under: Nigeria • Politics • Technology
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Ava Sharee Cain-White

    Voters registration should extended past January 29 and the elections back and several teams go in that could help with the machines by repairing them or get another way of verifing fingerprints to assist with the registration process@

    January 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Emmanuel Ene from Akwa Ibom State

    People in my area are not having these problems bc i gave them an idea that has helped us to register 16 people in 30 mins as against 4 people. The trick is to use cotten wool with spirit to clean the finger tips before attempting to scan them. The harmattan or something is causing cold and dry fingers. It would have been better if we could have gotten a 5 finger scanner which would pick all 5 fingers at once,than a one finger scanner which takes longer to scan.

    January 17, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RIk

    Nigeria does not need to look further for their president. Goodluck, is the projected winner!

    January 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chris

    lets just call i spare a spare, should we engage in cleaning or washing our hands before scanning after spending such amount of money for the project, the white man spends less and achieve great, i never heard of their cleaning hands before finger printing only in Nigeria. so spend much money and achieve unconditional result.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    It's only in Nigeria that you find such things happening. A lot of money was spent in purchasing those DDC machine. I wonder why they are not working well. It shows INEC didn't do their home work very well. Today is the 5th day of registration & no result. It's a shame. Something should be done fast before those intending to rig the election take advantage of the situation.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |