2023: INEC to need 100,000 vehicles, 4,200 boats

The Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has said over 100,000 vehicles and about 4,200 boats will be needed to convey personnel and sensitive materials to the various polling units in the 2023 general elections.

This is as he assured Nigerians of the timely arrival of materials and personnel on election day.

Speaking at the signing of the revised Memorandum of Understanding between INEC and road transport and marine workers’ unions in collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday, Yakubu explained that the revised MoU had been designed to facilitate the successful deployment of personnel and materials on election day.

But political parties said the commission should have called for bids rather than settle for transport unions based solely on their national identities.

Highlighting the logistics required for the polls, Yakubu said, “The 2023 general election will involve the nationwide deployment of over 1 million personnel and massive quantities of materials twice within two weeks from our state offices to 774 local government areas, 8,809 electoral wards, and 176,846 polling units across the length and breadth of our country.

“It will require over 100,000 vehicles and about 4,200 boats that will be accompanied by naval gunboats. This is a huge undertaking that must be accomplished in the next 66 days and we are resolute in doing so to give Nigerians a pleasant voting experience.

“Let me assure Nigerians that we are determined that all polling units nationwide will open at 8.30 am on Saturday, 25th February 2023 for the presidential and national assembly elections and on Saturday, 11th March 2023 for the governorship and state house of assembly elections.

“To ensure that personnel and materials will be at the polling units on election day awaiting the arrival of voters rather than the other way round, INEC requires large numbers of vehicles, including motorcycles, tricycles, boats, and canoes in the riverine areas which cannot be met from its internal resources.”

The commission chairman noted that the movement of all vehicles and boats would be electronically tracked to ensure that personnel and materials are not hijacked or diverted.

He said, “The security agencies shall not only be available to escort all vehicles and boats to locations, but they will also ensure the safety and protection of all election personnel and materials. As usual, we shall track the movement of all vehicles and boats electronically and in real-time to ensure that election personnel and materials are not hijacked or diverted.”

He also said the commission had decided to extend the MoU to accommodate the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria to curb the hiccups experienced in the deployment of materials and personnel in the riverine areas.

He urged the leadership of the unions to effectively supervise their members in the various chapters and branches for the full implementation of the MoU, adding, “We will therefore require your members to swear and strictly adhere to this oath and the INEC Code of Conduct for Electoral Officials as your participation in the delivery of electoral logistics requires absolute neutrality and non-partisanship.”

Yakubu also directed resident electoral commissioners to collaborate with the federal regulatory and safety agencies to ensure the road/seaworthiness and safety standards of the vehicles and boats.

NURTW boss speaks

The President, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Tajudeen Baruwa; the President, National Association of Road Transport Owners, Yusuf Othman and the President-General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Adeyanju Adewale assured the commission of their neutrality in discharging their duties.

They also promised the timely arrival of personnel and materials at the various polling units.

But commenting on the MoU, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Chief Victor Oye, said, “INEC should carry out due diligence on the transport owners and their drivers to ascertain who they really are. Again, the commission should engage in competitive bids in hiring the buses to ensure that all the conditions set out are met by the suppliers of the buses.’’

Aligning himself with Oye, the National Publicity Secretary of the Social Democratic Party, Rufus Aiyenigba also stressed the need for competitive bidding by the transporters engaged for election logistics.

“INEC should have employed the service of reputable auto lease agencies through competitive open bidding. That’s the way to go in ensuring impeccable service delivery and engender people’s trust in the credibility of the process. That way, no one will read meanings into the exercise or suspect political manipulations,” Aiyenigba advised.

Speaking with our correspondent, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Debo Ologunagba, said the commission should be trusted to deliver on credible elections as it has promised.

Stressing that there was no need to worry about the neutrality or otherwise of the transporters, he said, “The fear that they may be partisan is genuine but these union workers are Nigerians who, like other people, have been going through a lot of difficulties. As a result, we should trust them to do their own part of the deal without entertaining unnecessary worry.’’

“The unions may be affiliated to a political party for instance but their members, some of whom are drivers that have work to do for INEC can decide to vote their conscience. Let’s leave it and trust the commission to do its best,” he further said.

The Director of Publicity for the All Progressives Congress, Bala Ibrahim, argued that there was no cause for alarm as the commission had been partnering with the unions for a long time without any hitches.

According to him, INEC could not have signed an agreement with the unions if they did not have the capacity to deliver quality services on the election day.

He added, ‘’If the fear is that it would be with an association like the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria that may be inclined to a particular party, there is also the National Union of Road Transport Workers which has proven to be as non-partisan as possible.

“I don’t think INEC will be foolish to just sign an agreement with people that cannot deliver or who may compromise. They can’t do that. Besides, this has been done before and there was no problem. It is not the first time.

“If you are given sensitive documents to deliver in a particular place, you cannot divert it to another area. If you also fail to deliver on time, there will be sanctions as stated in the terms of agreement with the legal department of INEC.

‘’Another thing to note is that these transporters are not allowed to go just like that. Sensitive documents and materials from INEC are always conveyed to locations with escorts and armed policemen. The issue of compromise cannot even arise.’’

Labour Party warns

Spokesman for Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, admonished the commission to hold the unions accountable, describing some of their members as renegades.

Tanko said, ‘’If we have to be honest, there are challenges and apprehensions regarding the issue of involving transport workers or unions like the MC Oluomo faction of the NURTW, which does not represent the totality of members.

‘’What INEC probably needs to do is to hold the association accountable and each of the drivers engaged for the task. There is also an opportunity where the commission can also engage RTEAN, the other road transport union under the TUC (Trade Union Congress). They are also large in numbers. Just like the Oluomo faction, they too have some renegades among themselves who may compromise.

“But as the case may be in generality, the probability rate for the success of INEC’s MoU with the transport unions is minus one plus one. What I mean is that there may be chances of those who may be involved in trying to compromise. On the other hand, there is a chance that it may turn out to be a success if the transporters conduct a professional job without compromise. Above all, INEC must hold every driver accountable, apart from the transport union itself in the cause of failure to deliver the materials to venue on time.’’

Spokesman for New Nigeria Peoples Party, Ladipo Johnson, suggested that INEC should have engaged freight and logistics companies, noting that members of the transport unions had affiliations to some parties.





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