- Admits fuel scarcity may affect elections
BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
The Independent National Electoral Commission has finalised arrangements with the National Union of Road Transport Workers on its plans to use the union in conveying both personnel and materials for the forthcoming elections in both the February 25 and March 11 polls.
Speaking on the arrangement at a consultative meeting with the NURTW held in Abuja on Tuesday, Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said “The issue of logistics has been a perennial problem in election administration in Nigeria. That is why for three electoral cycles now, INEC has collaborated with the road transport unions to address the problem.
“For the 2023 General Election, the Commission has included the Marine Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) for efficient maritime transportation. The time has come to stop all excuses and provide effective logistics to ensure hitch-free logistics on Election Day. Nigerians should not wait for the arrival of personnel and materials at the polling units. Rather, we should be there waiting for the arrival of voters. We believe that this is achievable. Recent elections have shown that working in partnership with the unions and other stakeholders, we can achieve the objective. This is a patriotic duty and we should make the necessary sacrifice in the national intertest.”
Yakubu stated that the Commission is aware that this is an enormous task. “Election is the largest deployment a nation periodically undertakes and mobilisation of vehicles for election is a large and complex exercise. However, this comes only once in four years. What is critical here is forward planning. We have presented to the Union the number and specifications of the vehicles required for the election.
“We have also indicated to you the locations where the vehicles are needed. Happily, your members are spread across the country. Therefore, vehicles conveying personnel and materials will not travel long distances. In fact, all movements should be within a state and preferably within Local Government Areas. There should be no inter-state movement. I should also remind you that our MoU covers both forward and reverse logistics. This means that there is an obligation to return the personnel and materials to designated locations after the election.
“We are working with the security agencies to ensure the safety of your members and their vehicles during the election. Just like our election duty personnel, their safety is paramount. That is why in the most recent elections conducted by the Commission, the leadership of your Union at state level attended several meetings with our officials and the security agencies. We also ensured that your Union was represented in our Situation Room to coordinate the deployment of vehicles and the security of drivers. We will ensure that a similar arrangement is made nationwide for the general election.”
He disclosed that the Commission shares their concern about the fuel situation in the country and its impact on transportation on Election Day saying, “The truth is that our arrangements may be negatively affected by the non-availability of products. For this reason, the Commission will this afternoon meet with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to look into ways to ameliorate the situation. I wish to assure Nigerians that we will continue to engage every national institution for the success of the 2023 General Election.”
The INEC boss reminded the union members of the need to remain neutral in the discharge of their duty which he described as a national assignment. “I cannot conclude my remarks without reminding you of your obligation to neutrality. The work of INEC requires non-partisanship. Working in partnership with the Commission, you will be required to subscribe to the Oath of Neutrality and to demonstrate your non-partisanship in the work you do on Election Day.”
Speaking earlier, the President of NURTW, Comrade Tajudeen Ibikunle Baruwa, assured the INEC and the Nigerian populace of the resolve of his members at all levels be committed to the assignment given to them by the INEC saying it is a call to national duty which they have accepted to perform with all sense of responsibility.
Bolade Eyila, technical adviser to INEC Chairman reminded the NURTW members that they are carrying the trust of over 200 million Nigerians who are calling for free, fair, transparent and credible elections on their shoulders adding, “Your responsibilities are to deliver the personnel and materials to all the nooks and crannies of the country where elections will hold.
“You are equally to retrieve the personnel and materials after the elections. Do not abandon them because most of them are not conversant with the areas they will be posted for the elections.
“Make available your phone numbers and vehicle numbers for easy monitor and assessment. We will pay you 50 per cent of the agreed amount before you commence the work and pay you the balance after completion of work. Do not trouble our EOs at the PUs and Wards. Make your account details available because we will make electronic transfer in line with the cashless policy”, he said.