The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has invited the Nigerian Air Force, to support the Commission by availing it with some of its logistics assets for easy deployment of sensitive election materials in areas fraught with insecurity.
The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu made the appeal when he paid a visit to the Chief of Air Staff, I O Amao at Air Force head qauters in Abuja.
Yakubu, informed the Air Force chief that election constitutes the most extensive mobilisation and complex logistics operations that could happen in a country in peacetime.
He disclosed that on 25th February and 11th March 2023, the Commission will deploy personnel and materials to about 190,000 voting and collation locations nationwide for 1,491 executive and legislative offices across Nigeria.
According to him, These activities must take place simultaneously, stretching over 923,768km2 within a space of six voting hours (8.30am – 2.30pm) involving a projected population of 90 million voters.
Yakubu went further to say that, “It is obvious that in handling such a huge national assignment, the Commission cannot do it alone. Every national asset must be mobilised.”
It is in realisation of this objective, said the Chairman, that the law empowers the Commission to seek the support of the security agencies in general and the Armed Forces in particular in delivering materials for election and the protection of election officials. Section 27(3) of the Electoral Act 2022 specifically provides as follows:
“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and for the purpose of securing the vote, the Commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in the manner determined by the Commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies;
Provided that the Commission shall only request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces for the purpose of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials”.
“Accordingly, the Commission is here today to explore more effective ways of ensuring that working together as provided by law, we address aspects of the perennial issue of logistics in our elections in which we believe the Air Force has a critical role to play in the movement of materials.
This will be extended to other Armed Services in our determination to efficiently deliver materials and more efficiently serve Nigerians on Election Day.”
He further declared, There is no time to waste. The 2023 General Election is only 261 days from today.”
He also informed that the Ekiti State Governorship election is holding in the next 10 days on Saturday 18th June 2022 while the Osun Governorship election holds in 38 days on Saturday 16th July 2022.
In that regard ge also sought the support of the Air Force in handling the delivery of outstanding election materials to the two States while the Commission bears responsibility for all subsequent deployment within the States to the Local Government Areas and beyond as has been the practice.
“In doing so, I wish to reassure Nigerians that the Commission will always work together with all stakeholders, particularly agents of political parties and candidates, observers and the media to inspect and accompany the movement of all materials to various locations in a transparent manner.” he added.