The country’s ongoing fuel shortage has alarmed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which has expressed fear that it may affect election day operations.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC, said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a consultation with the National Union of Road Transport Workers, or NURTW.
As a result, the commission announced that it will meet with the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited NNPCL later on Tuesday to discuss possible solutions.
“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 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”, said Yakubu.
He said the meeting with the NURTW officials was to put finishing touches to the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding MoU signed between the Commission and the Union on 20th December 2022.
It would also see to conclusion on the modalities for the certification of vehicles by the Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC in the light of the emphasis the commission places on the safety of election personnel and materials.
According to him, 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 interest.
“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 stated.