The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the road transportation and marine workers’ unions to facilitate efficient and successful logistics delivery for 2023 general elections.
The unions include the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN).
INEC Chairman, prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the signing ceremony, said that the commission would require 100,000 vehicles and about 4,200 boats for the general elections.
“The signing of a revised MoU with the road and marine transport unions today is a demonstration of our determination to implement key recommendations of the review exercise to enhance forward and reverse logistics in our electoral operations.
“The 2023 General Elections will involve the nationwide deployment of over one million personnel and massive quantities of materials twice within a period of two weeks from our state offices to 774 Local Government Areas; 8,809 Electoral Wards and 176,846 polling units across the length and breadth of our country.
“It will require over 100,000 vehicles and about 4,200 boats that will be accompanied by naval gunboats.
“This is a huge undertaking that must be accomplished in the next 66 days and we are resolute in doing so, to give Nigerians a pleasant voting experience.”
Yakubu assured Nigerians that INEC was determined that all polling units nationwide would open at 8.30 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2023 for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and on March 11, 2023 for the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
Yakubu said that in order to ensure that personnel and materials arrived at polling units before voters on election day, INEC required large numbers of vehicles, including motorcycles, tricycles, boats and canoes in the riverine areas which could not be met from its internal resources.
Yakubu recalled that INEC signed the first MoU with the NURTW in January 2015, and reviewed it in December 2018 to incorporate NARTO, but did not incorporate the MWUN within the ambit of the MoU.
The situation, according to him, has often resulted in logistics nightmares in the deployment and retrieval of personnel and materials to the riverine areas of the country.
“This oversight is now addressed by the revised MoU to include MWUN, comprising of sailors, dockworkers and those in related trades in our electoral logistics planning and delivery.”
Yakubu advised the leadership of the unions to effectively supervise their members in the various chapters and branches for the full implementation of the MoU.
He charged them to work very closely with INEC and collaborate with the Federal Regulatory and Safety Agencies to ensure that the objectives of the MoU were fully realised in terms of required road/sea worthiness and safety standards of your vehicles and boats.
He said that the new MoU required that all the union members involved in election duties swore and abide by INEC Oath/Affirmation of Neutrality and the INEC Code of Conduct for Electoral Officials as their participation in the delivery of electoral logistics required absolute neutrality and non-partisanship.
“The security agencies shall not only be available to escort all vehicles and boats to locations, they will also ensure the safety and protection of all election personnel and materials.
“As usual, we shall track the movement of all vehicles and boats electronically and in real-time to ensure that election personnel and materials are not hijacked or diverted.
“Learning from the experience of the past, I would like to appeal to all the unions and service providers to abide by the spirit and letter of the MoU and the contract agreements.
“They must see their role as a national call to duty by ensuring that there is no failure on their part, especially on the eve of elections when it is too late for the Commission to make alternative arrangements.
“The unions should keep an eye on your members to ensure that when they take personnel and materials to designated locations, they also bring them back at the end of the elections. Your contract is for both forward and reverse logistics.”
Yakubu assured the union that INEC would work with security agencies to protect them and their vehicles in the course of the assignment.
“In the course of serving the nation, many of you have lost your vehicles to acts of arson and vandalism arising from violence and thuggery during elections.
“We appreciate that these vehicles are, in most cases, the sole means of livelihood for your members.
“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 the protection of their vehicles and boats,” Yakubu said.
The National President of NURTW, Tajudeen Baruwa, said the signing of the MoU marked the beginning of the journey for the successful conduct of 2023 general elections.
Baruwa said that the three unions would do everything possible to be neutral and ensure the successful implementation of the MoU.
“I wish to assure you and the entire nation, that the three unions, that on our part, we would not disappoint Nigeria.
“In fact, the NURTW, MWUN, and NARTO have come to regard this assignment as national service and therefore must deliver,” Baruwa said.
The NARTO President-General, Yusuf Othman, pledged that NARTO was committed to the assignment.
Othman said that NARTO had already commenced the arrangements for the deployment of its men.
“We from NATO we consider this assignment national assignment and we will ensure we give 100 per cent commitment and neutrality.”
The National President MWUN, Dr Adeyaju Adewale, commended INEC for extending the service to the nation to maritime workers.
Adewale pledged that MWUN would support INEC to make the elections successful. nan.