… assures transporters of fuel supply

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on the National Union of Road Transport Workers, (NURTW) not to abandon National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who will be serving during elections and all INEC ad-hoc staff while on duty for the 2023 general elections.

The INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, made this known at a consultative meeting with members of NURTW in Abuja. The meeting was aimed at putting finishing touches to the MoU signed between the union and the commission in December 2022 and to conclude on the modalities for the certification of vehicles by the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, in line with safety standards.

The INEC chairman charged the NURTW not to abandon NYSC and INEC ad-hoc staff on duty while pledging that INEC is working with security agencies to ensure the security of the NURTW members across the country.

“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,” Prof. Mahmood said.

In this regard, he pointed out that, “vehicles conveying personnel and materials will not travel long distances. All movements should be within a state and preferably within a local government area. 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.

While speaking on the scarcity and high cost of petrol, the chairman said he shares the concerns of the union as it can affect the movement of the vehicles, while assuring them that INEC will meet with authorities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, to resolve their worries.

Prof. Mahmood said the inclusion of the marine workers union is to ensure effective delivery of electoral materials and hitch-free logistics to riverine areas, adding that since NURTW members are spread across the country, there would be no interstate movement as they would not be required to go far.

“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”.

Recall in December 2022 the commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, for the deployment of over 100,000 vehicles to transport electoral materials and personnel during the elections.

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Also speaking, chief technical adviser to the chairman, Prof. Blade Enyinla said the commission is in partnership with the Marine Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, for the oyment of 4,000 boats for the election.

Prof. Eyinla said the vehicles and boats will convey materials and personnel to 176,846 polling units across Nigeria.

While giving an overview of the MoU, he said the document has four major areas. First, it is a voluntary agreement, based on mutual trust, and on the understanding that the election is a national assignment.

He said the commission is engaging with NURTW to deliver and retrieve, meaning that the union will not only deploy but also return materials and personnel to designated locations, even as he urged members of the NURTW not to abandon INEC personnel and materials as that would expose them to risk.

According to him, both parties have a responsibility towards each other as the union will monitor, administer and supervise the deployment, adding that the MoU will also entail any other obligations that the commission deems necessary for the success of the exercise.

Prof. Eyinla further stated that based on the MoU, all members must sign the oath of affirmation of neutrality and non-partisanship before they are engaged and that all vehicles that would be engaged must be brought for certification to ensure they possess some level of safety that would ensure the personnel and materials get to safety.

He urged NURTW to document all their drivers and provide their names, phone numbers, and addresses.

In his remarks, the National President of NURTW, Tajudeen Baruwa, said officials of the union from the 36 states were present at the meeting because the union wants members to know the importance of the MoU signed with INEC.

Baruwa assured INEC that its members across the nation will discharge their duties as prescribed by the MoU and that they will not disappoint the nation.