2023: Transport unions to lift over 1m personnel, 100,000 vehicles, 4,200 boats for INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has signed a revised Memorandum of Understanding MoU with road transport and marine workers’ union to help lift over a million personnel, 100, 000 vehicles and about 4, 200 boats deployed for the 2023 general election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja during the signing of the MoU.
The unions in the arrangement are the National Union of Road Transport Workers NURTW, National Association of Road Transport Owners NARTO and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria MWUN.
Speaking at the event, Yakubu said; “On 12th December 2018, we signed a memorandum of understanding with two transport unions, the National Union of Road Transport Workers NURTW and the National Association of Road Transport Owners NARTO. The MoU was based on the realisation of the critical role of transportation in the conduct of elections in Nigeria. The MoU was designed to facilitate the successful deployment of personnel and materials for the 2019 General Election and other elections. Following these elections, we undertook a comprehensive review to learn critical lessons in planning for the 2023 General Election and beyond.
“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 in order to enhance forward and reverse logistics in our electoral operations.
“The 2023 General Election will involve the nationwide deployment of over 1 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. Let me assure Nigerians that we are determined that all polling units nationwide will open at 8.30am on Saturday, 25th February 2023 for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and on Saturday, 11th March 2023 for the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections”, he added.
The INEC Chairman noted that in order to ensure that personnel and materials will be at the polling units on Election Day awaiting the arrival of voters rather than the other way round, the commission requires large number of vehicles, including motorcycles, tricycles, boats and canoes in the riverine areas which cannot be met from its internal resources.
Yakubu said it was for this reason that the Commission signed the first MoU with the NURTW in January 2015.
“In order to expand the pool of our service providers to meet the requirements for the increasing number of vehicles, the MoU was reviewed in December 2018 to incorporate NARTO.
“Over the years, the Commission has come to rely on the partnership with the NURTW and NARTO to provide vehicles for the successful deployment of electoral personnel and materials.
“However, we did not incorporate the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria MWUN within the ambit of the MoU, a situation which has often resulted in logistics nightmare 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”, he stated.
According to him, the MoU is a general framework, as the contractual agreement between the Commission and the actual service providers will be worked out at the State and LGA level between officials of the Unions and our Resident Electoral Commissioners and Electoral Officers.
He said the agreement which is legally binding will be based on the actual breakdown of the number of vehicles, tricycles, motorcycles, boats and canoes per State.
“It is therefore significant that our Resident Electoral Commissioners are present here today to witness the formal signing of the framework that will enable detailed work at State and LGA levels. I am also glad that the Unions are represented by their national leaders and as many of their zonal and State officials.
“It is our expectation that the leadership of the unions will effectively supervise their members in the various chapters and branches for the full implementation of the MoU. In doing so, you will be required to work very closely with our Resident Electoral Commissioners and collaborate with the Federal Regulatory and Safety Agencies to ensure that the objectives of the MoU are fully realized in terms of required road/sea worthiness and safety standards of your vehicles and boats.
“Furthermore, the knowledge of your members of the routes and topography in various parts of the country is especially important for ease of movement and a timeous and safe delivery of personnel and materials, especially to areas with difficult terrain.
“A new requirement in the new electoral legal framework is that everyone involved in election duties must subscribe to the INEC Oath/Affirmation of Neutrality. We will therefore require your members to swear and strictly adhere to this oath and the INEC Code of Conduct for Electoral Officials as your participation in the delivery of electoral logistics requires 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”, he declared.