30th January 2024
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has requested for the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF) assistance to deliver elections materials to three locations in the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest geo-political zones of the country where rerun and bye-elections will hold on 3rd February 2024.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who tendered the request when he led a delegation to the NAF headquarters in Abuja on 29th January, said the Commission would conduct the elections in 26 States.
Giving the breakdown, he said two Senators, four members of the House of Representatives and three members of State Assemblies will be elected in bye-elections to replace members who passed on or resigned their memberships of national and State Assemblies in nine States, while in other States, re-run elections will take place at designated constituencies or Polling Units as ordered by the Election Appeal Tribunals.
He said: “The elections will fill vacancies in three Senatorial Districts, 17 Federal and 28 State Constituencies spread across 80 Local Government Areas, 575 Registration Areas/Wards and 8,934 Polling Units involving 4,904,627 registered voters, out of which 4,613,291 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) have been collected.”
Prof. Yakubu acknowledged that the Commission could not handle such a huge national assignment alone and “that is why we seek to mobilise every national asset, including NAF.”
He said: “It is in realisation of this objective that the law empowers the Commission to seek the support of the security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies in the delivery of materials and the protection of election officials as clearly provided for in Section 27(3) of the Electoral Act 2022. The elections are holding this weekend. Working with the Central Bank of Nigeria, materials are being delivered to many locations. However, given the size and distance of some constituencies, we seek for the support of NAF to expeditiously deliver materials to three locations in the Northeast, Southeast and the Southwest geo-political zones of the country. We have already indicated to the Chief of the Air Staff the specific locations and the tonnage of materials to be airlifted.”
Prof. Yakubu said the evacuation of the materials from the focal airports to the States where election will hold will be handled by the Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria in line with standard practice. Thereafter, he noted, the inspection and movement of all materials to the various Local Government Areas and beyond will be done with the full participation of all stakeholders, particularly agents of political parties and candidates, observers and the media in a transparent manner.
He congratulated Air Marshal H.B. Abubakar on his appointment as the 22nd Chief of the Air Staff and all other recently promoted officers serving at both the headquarters and elsewhere. He also commended NAF for its cooperation in election security and logistic support for the timely delivery of materials during the general elections, off-cycle elections, bye-elections, supplementary elections, and rerun elections. He said: I want to place on record the neutrality and professionalism of NAF in particular and armed forces in general in discharging your responsibilities. There has been no unhappy incidents or compromise on the part of your officers and airmen.”
Responding, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the relationship between NAF and INEC had been anchored on shared objectives towards ensuring that good governance, stability, and the rule of law rein throughout all corners of Nigeria. He said the NAF had been INEC’s dependable partner in providing security in addition to rapid airlift for the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials across the country. He described the INEC team’s visit as a sign of the Commission’s commitment to continually strengthen the bond between both organisations. He assured the INEC Chairman: “we remain willing, able and ready to continue supporting INEC as we have done in the past.”
He affirmed that the successful conduct of elections is hinged on robust security and well-choreographed logistic supply chain management. He averred: “The Nigerian Air Force has been INEC’s dependable partner in providing security, in addition to rapid airlift for the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials across the country. I assure you that we remain willing able and ready to continue supporting INEC as we have always done in the past.”
The COAS commended the INEC Chairman for the numerous initiatives that had occurred under his watch. He listed the continuous voter registration, introduction of new technologies, voter education and sensitization and post-election reviews as some of the milestones.
He said: “Another laudable milestone achieved was the Electoral Act of 2022, which introduced reforms aimed at more timely organization of pre-electoral processes and increased transparency in results collation and reporting. These and many more reforms have raised the bar of transparency and credibility in our electoral process. We thus join the chorus of voices commending your efforts and stand proud as friends of your esteemed organisation.”