Make sure logistical issues don’t taint elections, organization cautions INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has been warned not to face the same logistical difficulties that accompanied the 2019 general elections in 2023 as well, according to the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA).

The timely transportation of persons and materials is one of the biggest issues INEC has on election days, according to Faith Nwadishi, executive director of CTA.

The CTA’s Programmes and Communications Manager MacDonald Ekemezie spoke on behalf of Nwadishi, who also observed that logistics issues had frequently delayed or completely changed election dates, as was the case with the 2019 national elections.

He quoted the INEC chairman as saying: “INEC requires large numbers of vehicles, including motorcycles, tricycles, boats, and canoes in the riverine areas which cannot be met from its internal resources, to ensure that personnel and materials will be at the polling units awaiting the arrival of voters on election day rather than the other way around. This is why, in January 2015, the Commission and the NURTW signed their first Memorandum of Understanding.

In a positive step in the right direction, CTA noted that INEC has increased this pool by bringing in NARTO and the Maritime Workers Association.

He estimated that INEC would need to cover all 774 local government areas, 8,809 electoral wards, and 176,846 voting places in Nigeria with more than 100,000 vehicles and around 4,200 boats, along with naval gunboats.

Even with signed MOUs, certain transport owners have in the past pulled pranks that significantly compromised elections and the electoral process. This time, the INEC chairman said, “they must consider their job as a national call to duty by ensuring that there is no failure on their part,” especially on the day before elections when it is too late for the Commission to prepare backup plans. The unions should keep an eye on your members to make sure that they bring back individuals and supplies at the conclusion of the elections after they have been taken to the specified areas. Both forward and reverse logistics are covered under your contract.

He continued, “We propose that the language and spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding and the contract agreements be followed by all unions and service providers.

“That the FRSC adequately track the vehicles and boats to be deployed to avoid diverting personnel and materials, and that the security services offer the drivers and their vehicles suitable protection in the course of duty,” the civil society group underlined.

A serious threat to the outcome of the general elections in 2023, according to CTA, is still posed by the ongoing attacks on INEC infrastructure.

The group contends that security forces must boost their game in terms of intelligence gathering with less than three months till the general elections if unfettered voting is to take place.

The CTA reminded electoral stakeholders that while the presidential and national assembly elections for 2023 would take place nationwide on February 25, 2023, the elections for governor and state houses of assembly will also take place on that same day, March 2023. The organization said, “INEC should be aware that the world is closely monitoring us.”

It strongly denounced the recent ugly and frightening practice of burning INEC offices and materials. Notification that the general elections in 2023 may be seriously jeopardized if this unlawful and dangerous act goes unchallenged.

“The CTA considers this act of arson to be disloyal and questions why some individuals have declared themselves to be enemies of our democracy, peace, and common sense. In 14 states of the federation, there have been roughly 42 incidents and attacks as of the most recent count. Bandit attacks, post-election attacks, Boko Haram, election day thuggery, unidentified gunmen and hoodlums, End SARS, and other types of attacks are among them, the group added.

We cannot afford this as we approach the 2023 General Elections, the group said, emphasizing that regrettably more attacks are occurring in the Southeast. All honorable men and women should denounce these senseless assaults and work together to reverse this awful trend.

We advise security authorities to step up their efforts at this crucial juncture in our country’s history in order to catch, charge, and punish perpetrators. They ought to be handled like criminals.

“At this moment, intelligence collection done in collaboration with community members should be promoted. Security agencies must protect INEC employees and facilities, as well as any other vital infrastructure involved in elections or not.

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