2023 elections: Ensure logistic challenges do not mar polls, group warns INEC

The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, against repeating the same logistic challenges that trailed the 2019 general elections for the 2023 polls too.

Executive Director of CTA, Faith Nwadishi said one of the greatest challenges faced by INEC on election days is the timely movement of personnel and materials.

Nwadishi, represented by MacDonald Ekemezie, Programmes and Communications Manager CTA, also noted that logistics had severally hampered operations, leading to delays in the commencement of elections or outright shifting of election date as witnessed in the 2019 general elections.

Quoting the INEC chairman, he said: “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, INEC requires large numbers of vehicles, including motorcycles, tricycles, boats, and canoes in the riverine areas which cannot be met from its internal resources. It was for this reason that the Commission signed the first MoU with the NURTW in January 2015.”

CTA noted that INEC has expanded this pool by bringing in NARTO and the Maritime Workers Association, a commendable move in the right direction.

He projected that INEC will be requiring over 100,000 vehicles and about 4,200 boats that will be accompanied by naval gunboats to be able to cover the 774 local government areas,8,809 electoral wards and 176,846 polling units across Nigeria.

“In the past, even with signed MOUs, some of the transport owners have played pranks that seriously jeopardized the electoral process and elections. This time around, in the words of the INEC chairman, “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.”

He spoke further: “We recommend that all the unions and service providers should abide by the spirit and letter of the MoU and the contract agreements.

“That the vehicles and boats to be deployed be properly tracked by the FRSC to avoid diversion of personnel and materials, that the security agencies give adequate protection to the drivers and their vehicles in the course of duty,” the civil society group noted.”

CTA also lamented the continuous attacks on INEC facilities, saying the development still poses major threats to the outcome of the 2023 general elections.

According to the group, with less than three months to the general elections, security agencies must step up their game by way of intelligence gathering, if the polls must hold unhindered.

CTA reminded electoral stakeholders that while the 2023 elections will hold across the country on February 25, 2023, for the Presidential and National Assembly, the Governorship and States House of Assembly Elections will equally hold on March 2023. “INEC should be conscious that the world is keenly watching us,” the body stated.

It condemned in strong terms the ugly and alarming trend of burning INEC offices and materials in recent times. Warning that this dangerous and criminal act if left unchecked could pose a grave danger to the 2023 general elections.

“The CTA views this act of arsons as unpatriotic and wonders why some people have constituted themselves as enemies of our democracy, peace, and common sense. As of last count, there have been about 42 incidents and attacks in 14 states of the federation. The type of attacks includes bandits’ attacks, post-election attacks, Boko Haram, thuggery on election day, unknown gunmen and hoodlums, End SARS, among others,” the group noted.

Stressing that sadly, a greater number of the attacks are in the Southeast, the group cautioned: “We cannot afford this going towards the 2023 General Elections. All men and women of goodwill should condemn these senseless attacks while joining hands to quench this ugly trend.

“We, therefore, recommend that security agencies should up their games at this critical moment in our nation’s history and apprehend, prosecute, and punish offenders. They should be treated as criminals.

“Intelligence gathering with cooperation with community members should be encouraged at this time. INEC personnel and facilities including other critical infrastructures related or not related to elections must be protected by the security agencies.”

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