• Assures NYSC DG of corps members’ safety, increased allowance
• No plans by personnel to boycott elections over outstanding allowances, says NSCDC boss
• Atiku warns INEC against use of Parks Management Committee to distribute election materials in Lagos
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has insisted the 2023 general elections will hold as scheduled.
While receiving the new Director General of the National Youth Service Corps, Brig. General Yushu’a Dogara Ahmed, yesterday, at the Commission, Yakubu said INEC has no plans to shift any of the elections slated for February 25 and March 11.
Reacting to media reports of the rumoured planned extension of the elections, the INEC boss did not give details but further assured the NYSC DG of the safety of corps members to be mobilised for the polls and an increased in their allowance.
Recall that INEC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NYSC leadership for the deployment of graduates on the mandatory one-year national service as ad-hoc staff during the general elections.
Yakubu said aside from providing security for the youths to be deployed to work at Polling Units, the Commission, in collaboration with security agencies, is also showing more than passing interest in their security while at the various NYSC camps across the country.
He said: “No electoral commission anywhere in the world conducts election on the strength of its own regular staff. For us at INEC, we are lucky to have this large pool of those on national service to complement us. We are concerned about the comfort, safety and security of the corps members. We will continue to make them comfortable ahead of their deployment to Polling Units. We will even extend security to the NYSC camps as well.
“On their safety after the elections, I have emphasised to the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) that corps members must not be abandoned after the election but brought back to base after the exercise.
“On training, we are training them in camp, so that, by the time they are deployed, they are already trained. I want to assure that before they leave camp, those in Enugu and Kano would have been trained before February 14. We will work together to train them ahead of their deployment.”
Earlier in his remarks, the NYSC DG assured Yakubu that his agency would work tirelessly to ensure that all terms and conditions of the MoU are met.
“We are already sensitising those on national service to allay their fears. It is an assignment they should be proud to carry out. I know you are talking day and night to talk to security chiefs, to ensure security of corps members.”
The NYSC management had earlier called for the review of allowances being paid to corps members during elections. The newly appointed DG of NYSC also confirmed the increment of corps members’ allowance ahead of the polls.
Management of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has debunked reports that personnel of the agency are planning a mass boycott of the elections over non-payment of their allowances for Osun and Ekiti states governorship elections.
In a communiqué signed by its spokesman, Olusola Odumosu, the agency said it is dedicated to ensure citizens and the country at large are adequately secured to enable free, fair and transparent election.
The agency, however, said although personnel of the Corps that took part in the Ekiti and Osun elections last year were yet to receive their allowances, NSCDC management is taking bold steps to ensure the allowances are paid before the presidential election later this month.
“The Federal Government recently released Osun election allowances, which is in the process of disbursement to operatives who participated in the election duty and it was also promised that the allowances for Ekiti election is in the process of release to the Corps.
“The management appeals to all personnel affected by the late allowance payment to exercise more patience as the payment process cannot be completed in one day. Personnel are educated and enlightened enough to understand that allowances are only added incentives to salaries and not a right, and that sometimes, bureaucratic bottlenecks can be responsible for such delays.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned INEC against using the Parks Management Committee in Lagos State to distribute election materials.
Atiku, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, said using Lagos State Parks Management Committee, led by Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, to distribute sensitive electoral materials and transport election officials on election day, could jeopardise the objectives of the elections.
Shaibu noted that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State had banned NURTW because national leadership of the union suspended MC Oluomo, a loyalist of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Shaibu added that Sanwo-Olu had also banned the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), then set up the Lagos State Parks Management Committee and appointed MC Oluomo as the chairman so that he will have total control of the entire public commercial transport system of Lagos.
“To preserve the sanctity of this election and ensure there is no room for electoral malpractice, INEC must ensure that MC Oluomo is not allowed access to ballot papers. INEC should not make use of the state’s park committee. Rather, the Commission should reach out to the national leadership of NURTW and or engage the services of any logistic company for the purpose of distributing sensitive electoral materials in Lagos,” Shaibu said.