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INEC Worries Over Worsening Fuel Crisis Ahead Of Polls

INEC Worries Over Worsening Fuel Crisis Ahead Of Polls

Just 24 days to the 2023 presidential elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday shared the same concerns raised by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) over the worsening fuel crisis and its impact on transportation on election day.

One major challenge facing Nigerians since early 2022, is scarcityaqmn petrol to either fuel their vehicles or power their generators. This is even as the commission said it was to engage with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited to look into ways to ameliorate the situation ahead of the polls.

INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who stated this in Abuja at a Consultative meeting with the NURTW assured Nigerians that the commission would continue to engage every national institution for the success of the 2023 general election.

According to the INEC chairman, the purpose of meeting with transport workers was “to put finishing touches to the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the commission and the union about two months ago on 20th December 2022.”

He said the second reason was “to conclude on the modalities for the certification of vehicles by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in the light of the emphasis we place on the safety of election personnel and materials.”

Yakubu stated: “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.

“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.

The INEC chairman reminded the union of their obligation to neutrality, adding that “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 on election day,” the INEC chairman said.

The president of NURTW, Chief Tajudeen Baruwa, promised that his members would not disappoint Nigerians in discharge of election duties. Also, the representative of the corps marshal of the FRSC, Bisi Kazeem, said the checklist of the vehicles would be done two weeks before the elections instead of two days to the election to ensure minimum safety standards. He called on the union to cooperate with the FRSC. Thirty-six state chapters of the NURTW and Abuja attended the meeting.

INEC, NNPCL Parley On Fuel Supply For Election Material Movement

Also yesterday,  Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has assured the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of its support to guarantee uninterrupted petroleum products supply to the later logistics supplies for this year’s general elections.

The group chief executive officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mallam Mele Kyari, gave the assurance yesterday when he hosted a delegation of INEC management led by its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

He acknowledged that logistics was a major component of electoral duties and that the organisation has always supported the INEC. “Needless to say that there was no formal framework for that, and there were no even exact formal requests for this. All the same, we are always conscious of the necessity to provide support to INEC whenever elections take place.

“It is not just an honour to the NNPC. It is also a challenge for us, to come into the equation in making sure that we have a stable political system in our country and we’ll be happy to contribute to this.

“Much as even you are going to pay for the product that we’re going to deliver to you. There will be no difficulty doing this Mr chairman, we have presents, we are everywhere. But where we are not, we will provide commercial conversation between the commission and other marketing companies so that when you need this product, you will have it.

“Also, in addition to this, we are the only company that has floating mega stations in the country. We will also look at this and see how we can make it available for the purpose of the Marine Operations in the riverine areas of our country,” Kyari said.

He also assured that the current nationwide fuel scarcity is being addressed through extreme measures to contain the current distribution challenges and that within the next week, there will be significant relief if not the elimination of the current situation.

Earlier, Yakubu said the Nigerian election is huge and complex, as it is the biggest logistical operation that Nigeria undertakes every four years. The INEC boss said that 93,469,008 registered voters are expected to elect a President, 28 state governors, and 1,462 legislators comprising 109 Senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives, and 993 members of State Houses of Assembly.

“The commission is mobilising about 100,000 vehicles and 4,000 boats for the deployment of personnel and materials to 176,846 polling units (PUs) spread across 8,809 Registration Areas (or electoral Wards) in 774 Local Government Areas nationwide.

“Earlier this morning, we had a meeting with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). We are working with them as well as the Marine Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to mobilise the vehicles and boats needed for the massive land and riverine movement of men and materials for the election. We are determined to overcome the perennial challenge of the late commencement of polls on grounds of logistics.

“However, this objective cannot be fully accomplished without the guaranteed supply of petroleum products to facilitate the movement of vehicles and boats. Hence, in our effort to mobilise every national institution to give Nigerians a pleasant experience on Election Day.

“The commission believes that the NNPC, as our national oil company, is one of the critical institutions that can facilitate the attainment of our objective. We are aware of the efforts of the NNPC to ease the current situation in earnest,” he said.

Yakubu urged the NNPCL management to grant INEC the usage of NNPCL land and floating mega stations nationwide to service its election duty vehicles and boats.“We will bear the cost of the products. By doing so, there will be guaranteed supply for elections; a special arrangement with other marketers in locations where the NNPC may not have dedicated stations; and consideration of other options to support our seamless operations on election day,” Yakubu said. (leadership.ng)

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