Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N459 million for INEC to procure 17,000 customised and configured smart card readers to authenticate voters during elections.

The contract for the procurement was awarded to Messrs Zinox Technologies Ltd at the rate of N27,000 per smart card reader with a completion period of six months

The Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of FEC meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

INEC ballot box: smart card coming to verify voters' identity

INEC ballot box: smart card coming to verify voters’ identity

Maku said the council’s approval was in line with the resolve of the Jonathan administration to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

According to Maku, the smart card readers to be deployed to polling stations during elections would be used to verify the identity cards of registered voters.

“The proposal is clearly to ensure that all those who have fake identity cards are identified in all future elections.

“So, when you bring your voter card and there are doubts, it will pass through a process to verify the authenticity of the cards.

“Since the voter cards now have biometrics, it will be easy for the smart card readers to verify the identity of those who come out to vote during elections.

“This is to completely stop incidence of double voting which often occur during elections.

“It is also to ensure that those who vote are citizens that have been duly registered to vote in specific constituency where the election might be holding,’’ he said..

Maku said the approval was for the first batch and there would be subsequent two installments to cover the numbers needed for all polling centres in the country.

The Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, said he briefed the council on the performance of his Ministry in 2012.

He said the ministry had created the avenue for youths to be self-reliant through a number of agro-business projects.

The minister said that more than 700 youths had been trained in the agricultural sector and that most of the beneficiaries had become employers of labour.

He said the ministry introduced value orientation programme in 2012 to stem the tide of get-rich-quick syndrome among the youths.

Specifically, Abdulkadir said the ministry partnered with Gombe State Government to curb the proliferation of thugs called “yan kalare’’ in the state.

“Over 100,000 NYSC members were trained in agricultural enterprises and in a number of cases, beneficiaries were given grants and kits.

“Similarly, 250,000 corps members were deployed last year from which 247,000 participated in different programmes.

“Another 200,000 also benefitted from the entrepreneurial program,’’ he said.

Abdulkadir said the Federal Government was committed to making the NYSC scheme more robust and relevant.