31st January, 2019.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has asked the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to help the Commission track all vehicles conveying election materials and personnel from their departure points to the 119, 973 polling units to be used for the 2019 general elections.Speaking at the Corps Marshal’s Strategy Session with Commanding Officers held at the FRSC headquarters in Abuja today, Prof Yakubu also urged the officers to screen particulars of the vehicles to be deployed for electoral operations, in order to guarantee their road-worthiness and capacity to carry out the required services. Besides, he appealed for the inspection of drivers’ licenses, to ensure that engaged drivers also possess the required certification to drive.
To ensure that polling units open at 8am on 16th February when the first in the series of general elections begins, Prof. Yakubu noted that speedy and timely arrival of election materials and personnel at all polling units across the country was not only desirable but necessary. To that extent, he appealed to the FRSC to give vehicles to be engaged by the Commission for such exercises smooth passage and help clear any obstruction that might cause any delay along all routes. He enjoined the officers to enforce the movement restriction order applicable on election day.
Prof. Yakubu also asked the FRSC to make its emergency call centres available on demand and avail the Commission with its periodic reports to support mapping efforts.
On the challenges facing the Commission, Prof. Yakubu expressed concern about the security situation in the north east and other parts of the country, but he expressed confidence in the ability of the country’s security agencies make the country safe enough for the elections to hold.
He admitted that the do-or-die attitude of politicians was equally of major concern to the Commission, just as he alerted his audience to a recent discovery of plans by politicians to use food vendors for vote-buying and selling activities on election day. He called on the FRSC to remain vigilant and ensure that such activities are never allowed. He said one of the measures taken by the Commission against the incidence of vote buying was the reconfiguration of polling units to make it difficult for vote buying and selling to take place.
The INEC Chairman also assured the FRSC commanders of the Commission’s preparedness and determination to conduct free, fair and credible 2019 general elections.
The FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi said the officers would everything to support INEC. He said adequate sensitisation programmes about the tasks at hand were already being carried out within the organisation. However, he expressed concern about what he described as the prevailing situation in which many individuals were driving vehicles without the driver’s licence, saying it was a major headache for the FRSC. He said adequate measures were being taken to deal with the situation.
Dr Oyeyemi also expressed worry about the rise in accidents involving trucks and the use of social media platforms to spread fake news about activities going on along various highways.
The FRSC is one of INEC’s partners and a member of the Inter Consultative Committee of Election Security (ICCES). The Committee holds regular quarterly meetings where core security issues are discussed.
The INEC Chairman’s interface with the FRSC Corps Marshal and Commanding Officers is the first of its kind and was well received by the officers.