The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is for timely movement of election materials on Election Days.
Chief Technical Adviser to INEC Chairman, Prof. Bolade Eyila, at a roundtable on the implementation of MoU with unions in the transport sector, said it would be difficult for the commission to send materials to 800,809 registration areas and 1, 119, 973 polling units on election day without partnership with stakeholders.
Eyila said INEC expanded the MoU to include members of the NURTW, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) in the 2018 agreement to ensure effective coverage of the country. According to him, the agreement is to last for four years, adding that the review became necessary because of the 2023 general elections. He requested the NURTW to provide INEC with roadworthy vehicles in good time and to ensure timely movement of election materials. Chairman, Electoral Operations and Logistics Committee Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, said election conduct is not for INEC alone, disclosing that since 2010, the Commission has been cooperating with other stakeholders.
“The three unions have created good working relationship with INEC. This meeting is organised to review the operations towards 2023 general election,” Ibeanu added. President of NURTW, Alhaji Tajudeen Ibikunle Baruwa, called for insurance coverage for members of the union on election duties. Baruwa, who was represented by the General Secretary, Kabiru Adoyam, said some members of the union lost their lives while many vehicles were vandalised during elections. He noted that members of the union on election duties work late hours without security, which he blamed on the delay in releasing electoral materials by INEC. Baruwa decried inadequate security arrangements for drivers and vehicles on election duties, which he said: “Exposed our members to undue assault, attack and even death, as was seen in states like Akwa Ibom and Rivers”.
He added, “There was sabotage by some EOs who, to make money, reduced the agreed number of vehicles at the last minute and pocketed the monetary difference, leading to delays and overuse of the accepted vehicles and drivers.” The union chief suggested that if other unions are to be engaged, “they should be assigned responsibilities that corresponds with their areas of specialization”. He added, “For example NARTO should be engaged for haulage vehicles while NURTW should be engaged for passengers vehicles.”