Ad-hoc staff, including members of National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, who were engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections, have threatened to boycott the upcoming Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections over the non-payment of their training and duty allowances.
Indications that the ad-hoc workers, especially corps members may boycott Saturday’s elections came yesterday as they expressed anger over INEC’s delay in paying their allowances.
Some of the ad-hoc staff, who confided in Nigerian Pilot, expressed dissatisfaction with the inability of the commission to pay them for the job they described as risky in view of the manner elections are conducted in the country.
They threatened not to participate in Saturday’s elections if they were not immediately paid their allowances by the authorities. Some of the aggrieved corps members claimed that they were informed by the commission that the money had been paid to the NYSC.
The ad-hoc staff said that they want their allowances paid before the Saturday elections because “no one will take the issue seriously after the polls are concluded.”
INEC had in 2011 included the deployment of corps members in the conduct of elections as ad-hoc staff. The move received commendation from both within and outside the country because it brought credibility to the electoral process.
One of the affected corps members said: “The Director-General of the NYSC and INEC Chairman have reportedly stated that our involvement in the process has made it more credible. They also acknowledged that it is national sacrifice. But what we find difficult to understand is the continued delay in paying our stipends.
“With this continued delay, what then is the motivation for others who may be required to render similar services in the future?”
Another corps member disclosed that the only money he had received from INEC is the training fee of N4,500. According to him, the money for the refresher-training, feeding, transport and the main duty is yet to be paid almost two weeks after the elections.
The situation is not different with non-corps members who also worked as ad-hoc staff during the elections.
A former corps member described the delay in the payment of the allowances as an act of corruption by INEC, insisting that somebody people may be keeping the funds in their personal accounts for them to yield interests. She threatened to join her colleagues to protest their ill treatment if INEC refused to act quickly.
She said: “These people are just being wicked; what is preventing them from paying us our money after the stress and insults we received during the elections? Since they don’t want to pay us, we are going to do a serious protest if that will bring our money out from wherever it is kept.”
Further investigations by Nigerian Pilot revealed that a few corps members had received varying sums through their bank accounts.
“As for me, after the N4,500 training allowance I also received N13,000 from INEC through my bank account”, said a corps member serving in Abuja.
At INEC office in Karu, Abuja, the commission pasted a notice in front of its office, informing those who attended the refresher-training to come and collect their allowances starting from yesterday. But some corps members who went there met another notice informing them that all the monies for the elections will be paid into their bank accounts.
When contacted on the issue, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said that all the money for corps members who worked as ad-hoc staff during the elections is with the NYSC.
“I don’t know if you were at the press briefing with the commission, if you were there, you will understand what we said there. All the money for ad-hoc staff who worked during the elections is with the NYSC, the money is no longer with the INEC,” Idowu stated.
We’ll correct our mistakes at Saturday’s polls – INEC
Meanwhile, INEC has said that it would correct the lapses associated with the Presidential and National Assembly elections at this weekend’s Governorship and State House of Assembly polls.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Austin Okojie, stated this when he took delivery of sensitive electoral materials for this Saturday’s elections in Uyo, the state capital.
Okojie said that the non-sensitive materials had been delivered while the sensitive materials for the Assembly elections were still being expected.
He assured the electorate that the materials would be distributed to registration area centres after inspection by political party agents, security agencies and the media.
Okogie explained that early dispatch of materials to such centres was to get the materials to the hinterlands to avoid logistics problems on the election day.
On complaints by one of the political parties over alleged electoral malpractices by the ruling party in the state, Okojie maintained that the commission would continue to ensure fairness and equity to all parties.