The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Mahmood Yakubu, says the commission will continue to place a premium on the security of corps members on election duty.
Yakubu said this on Friday in Abuja when he led the management staff of the commission to pay a courtesy visit to the Acting Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Mrs Christy Uba.
He described the role of corps members as the most critical in the election process.
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According to the chairman, the corps members operate at the most important level of election, which is the polling unit, the only level where citizens actually vote.
“So, for that reason, we will also extend insurance cover in case of injury or other emergencies to all corps members involved in election duty.
“Working with the security agencies, we will also extend protection and security to the youth corps members’ lodges when they are deployed to the field on election days.
“This is because we have had some unhappy experiences before, when some hoodlums raided the corps members’ lodges in some places, while they were on election duty.
“So, we will continue to take whatever step that is necessary to protect and guarantee the security and welfare of the corps members,’’ Yakubu assured.
The chairman said the commission would continually operate within the framework of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the commission and the NYSC.
He also assured that there would be training and retraining of the ad hoc staff, the majority of who were youth corps members in the handling of election technology.
“They will be responsible for the management of the polling units, management of elections resources including sensitive materials, accreditation of voters, using the Bimodal Voter Registration System (BVRS) on election days.’’
According to Yakubu, the corps members are more involved immediately the voting processes are over.
“They record the results on the result sheets.
“When all the party agents have signed, then, they will be responsible for snapping the result at that level, using the BVRS, and transmitting same in real time.’’
Yakubu said the commission was fully ready for the forthcoming general elections.
The chairman said that INEC would ensure that all materials and staff got to their respective places of assignment on time and that the polling units, too, would open promptly.
Responding, Uba expressed the NYSC’s continued readiness to partner with the commission, adding that a lot had been achieved over time.
According to her, regarding the forthcoming election, the corps members are eager, as the youths are very interested in it, and will make sure that they work hard to make things right.
She, however, said that the scheme and the commission were expected to play their roles.
“On preparation for the 2023 general elections, we have directed state coordinators to encourage corps members to register on the INEC portal, and I believe they have done that.
“Corps’ Welfare and Service Department is expected to visit states to assure corps members and staff of the commitment of INEC and NYSC, to their safety while on election duties.
“This is to further encourage them, given the situation we have found ourselves in. They need to be assured that their security is being taken care of.’’
Uba said that state coordinators had been directed to combine names and phone numbers of key security personnel in the states and local government areas for dissemination to corps members who wish to participate in the exercise.
She said that all state coordinators had also been directed to liaise with all Directorate of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies to identify crisis-prone areas in the state.
According to her, such volatile areas will be forwarded to the NYSC headquarters for monitoring.
Uba said that in view of the number of corps members that would be required by INEC, the scheme had concluded plans to hold the 2023 Batch A Stream One course in January.
This, she said, would add to the number of corps members, who would be available to participate in the process.
“We need to work in our present reality, there is the need to review the allowances paid to the corps members.
“The chairman should please look at the conditions and ensure some level of improvement as contained in the MoU,’’ Uba said.
Reports have it that both organisations signed a review of the MoU in March 2022, in preparation for the general elections in February.