INEC Chairman Raises The Alarm, Says Lingering Fuel Scarcity May Affect 2023 General Elections, As INEC, NNPC Meet Over Impact of Fuel Scarcity on Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said the lingering fuel scarcity may affect the movement of election materials and personnel on election days, if not addressed.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at a sensitisation meeting on the implementation of the commission’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other unions ahead of the forthcoming elections.

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He said the meeting with the unions was aimed at achieving two objectives. These according to him include to put finishing touches on the implementation of the MoU signed between the commission and the unions about two months ago and to conclude on the modalities for the certification of vehicles by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), in the light of the emphasis placed on the safety of election personnel and materials.

The chairman noted that the issue of logistics had been a perennial problem in election administration in Nigeria, saying that was why for three electoral cycles, INEC has collaborated with the road transport unions to address the problem.

The INEC boss explained: “For the 2023 general election, the commission has included the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria for efficient maritime transportation. The time has come to stop all excuses and provide effective logistics to ensure hitch free arrangement for the 2023 general election.

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 these objectives. And this is our patriotic duty and we should all make the necessary sacrifices in the national interest.”

Yakubu noted that the commission was aware that the task was enormous, stressing that election was the largest deployment a nation periodically undertakes. He noted that mobilisation of vehicles for election was usually a large and complex exercise.

He added: “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 interstate movement.”

The chairman informed the unions that the MoU covered both forward and reverse logistics, stressing that there was an obligation to return the personnel and materials to designated locations after the election.

According to him, “when you take election duty staff particularly those deployed to the polling units, please don’t abandon these ad hoc staff, particularly the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members

“We have a responsibility to take them to locations in safety and to bring them back in safety to where you took them.”

The chairman noted the commission was working with security agencies to ensure the safety of NURTW members and their vehicles during the elections.

Yakubu said: “Just like our election duty personnel, the safety, the safety of your members is paramount. That is why in the most recent elections conducted by the commission, the leadership of your union, particularly the NURTW at state level, attended several meetings with our officials and the security agencies.

“We also ensured that the 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.”

Yakubu noted that the commission shared the concern of the unions concerning the lingering petrol scarcity.

His words: “The commission shares your concern about the fuel situation in the country and its impact on transportation on election day. 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 Corporation Limited to look into ways to ameliorate the situation.”

The chairman assured Nigerians that it would engage every national institution for the success of the 2023 general election.

He said, “I can’t 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 practically on election day.”

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