What is a DDC Machine?

Most patriotic citizens must have registered to vote in the upcoming April 2011 general elections. Even the ones who could not or refused to do so must have observed people queueing up to perform their civic responsibility.

And they must have noticed what “DDC machines” are. The Director Data Capture Machine.

Each unit of the DDC machine was supplied at an average cost of about $1,700 (equivalent of about N255,000.00 then). There were three suppliers who, collectively, were mandated to supply a total of 132,000 units. Whether they actually supplied everything is a story for another YEAR!

As an IT professional, my intuition immediately told me the cost of the DDC machine is DEFINITELY on a very high side! Say wetin?

Now, let us start with the base equipment itself:

I would opine that, to capture the biometrics of citizens, you do not need a full-fledged laptop. We are merely capturing data, remember?  A simple netbook with a webcam would do. And you do not need “quad-core” processors in those netbooks because all they are meant to do is capture the data. No heavy-duty processing. Based on the projected numbers of people that can be registered per centre, an internal hard disk size of 512 Gigabytes would be more than adequate. You need to capture the images of their ten fingerprints and photograph. No big data guzzling here!

A netbook of about N60,000 – N75,000 would suffice for this part of the DDC equipment. That is the prevailing cost in the Nigerian market! For such volumes we are talking about, the unit cost woud probably be about N55,000.

Are we killing an ant with a sledge-hammer by procuring full laptops where simple netbooks would do the job admirably? I think so!  More so, after the current use, I can bet my last Naira notes that we shall not be using or seeing those laptops again!  You disagree? Okay , ask yourself what happenened to the  various “equipment” purchased by former Maurice Iwu of INEC!

The other parts of the ‘equipment’ are

1) a bargain-basement laminator  – $100   –   N15,000

2) the usb-camera (why not use in-built webcams instead?) – $60  = N9,000

3) fingerprint scanner  (less than $100 = N15,000) I listened to the chairman of Zinox, the only local supplier of the lot, say  on television that the amount at which they (contractors)supplied the equipment was inadequate, and gave them very thin profit margins. The thin margin may be because there was too much ‘sharing’ at the “award level” (**lips sealed**) . The Nigerian factor!

But he did not convince ME.

Besides, since many units were being supplied (Zinox was given 80,000), the overall profit is what is important, not the profit per equipment.

Collectively, we are looking at a figure (cost price) of about N120,000  (with decent profit margin of 10 %- 15% built-in)  that could have got us what we needed. Instead, we are expending twice that.

Now N135,000 multiplied by 132,000 units gives me N17,820,000,000 (over N17 billion) – thrown away. That figure would fix the Benin-Ore Road! Heck, it would provide some better funding for some Federal Universities!

Is it a wonder that our democracy is reputed to be one of the most expensive in the whole wide world?

This voter registration exercise is just another example of how the nation’s resources are frittered away continually, year-in, year-out.

Before I forget, this same government  – this one that is capturing our biometrics for the forthcoming voting exrcise – also captured our data in the botched National Identity Card Project, the census attempt of a few years back and are also doing so for the SIM registration chop-and-clean-mouth exercise!

Now, how efficient is that?  How sensible?

I earnestly pray and look forward to the day when there will be frugality as well as accountability in public expenditure.

And the biggest prayer – of course- is that corruption BE reduced  so that what we want to ‘eat’ does not make us ‘foolish’!

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