The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday in Abuja signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with transport unions for efficient logistics in the 2019 general election.
News men gathered that the unions who signed the MoU are- National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
The Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) is yet to sign the MoU, as INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi said there are issues needed to be addressed before the agreement can be signed.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, described the signing of the MoU as another giant step in the commission’s preparations for the 2019 general election as one of the critical challenges to the conduct of election in Nigeria is logistics.
Yakubu said the commission required over 100,000 vehicles to deploy personnel and materials from state offices to 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) 8,809 electoral wards and 119,973 polling units, which he described as a huge undertaking.
“In order to achieve this commitment, INEC requires over 100,000 vehicles. The logistical requirements are beyond the internal resources of INEC.
“It is for this reason that the Commission has been in partnership with NURTW for which an MOU was first signed with the union in January 2015.
“However, with the increase in the number of voters as well as political parties since the last General Election, we need to increase the pool of our service providers to meet the consequential increase in the number of vehicles.
“Accordingly, we decided to expand our collaboration beyond the NURTW,’’ he said.
Yakubu called on national leaders of the unions to supervise their members and branches for the full implementation of the MoU by working closely with INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners to ensure that the objectives were fully realised.
“We will also require you to swear to an oath of neutrality as your participation in the delivery of electoral logistics requires absolute neutrality and impartiality.
“The security agencies shall escort all vehicles to locations. In addition, we shall track the movement of all vehicles electronically and real time, as we did in some recent elections,’’ he said.
Yakubu assured Nigerians that INEC was determined that all polling units nationwide would open at 8 a.m., saying the commission was determined to give Nigerians a pleasant voting experience in 2019.
“We have been working hard to ensure that personnel and materials will be on location awaiting the arrival of voters rather than the other way round,’’ he said.
Yakubu appealed to the unions’ leaders to ensure that there was no failure on their part, especially when it is too late for the Commission to make alternative arrangement on the eve of election.
INEC Chairman signing MoU for logistics deployment for 2019 general elections, on Wednesday in Abuja
“While we appeal to political actors to call their supporters to order, I wish to assure you that we will continue to work with the security agencies to ensure the safety of your members and your vehicles,’’ he said.
Speaking on the MoU, the Chief Technical Adviser to INEC Chairman, Mr Bolade Eyinla, said that the MoU empowered the leadership of the unions to supervise and monitor their members.
“We have built in this new MOU some administrative responsibilities. The new MOU ensures that we will certify the quality of the vehicles to be used on Election Day so they meet the required safety standard,” he said.
Eyinla advised all parties to the MOU to abide by the regulations spelt out in it, by ensuring that the required vehicles were assembled at required locations at stated time.
The National President NURTW, Alhaji Najeem Yasin, pledged that the union would contribute its quota to ensure the success of 2019 general election.
“I will like to assure INEC that in 2019 we will do our best than what we did in 2015,’’ he said.he National President, NARTO, Dr Kashim Bataiya, also pledged that the association would carry out its assigned duty effectively as stated in the MoU.
“We will do everything possible to carry out our duty effectively for the deployment of personnel and materials and other logistics for the elections,” he said.
The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi, pledged that commission would work with INEC in the area of certification of vehicles to be deployed for the election.
Oyeyemi represented by FRSC Assistant Corp Marshal, Victor Nwoko said that the Corps would do more than it has been doing in collaboration with INEC, to ensure success of 2019 general election.(NAN)