The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has expressed worry over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), saying that it may have serious impact on preparations towards the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
The Commission said the continued strike has hampered the recruitment of over 1 million ad-hoc staffers required for election duties, especially, students from Tertiary institutions.
Although Okoye revealed that the Commission is presently organising ROOT training for serving youth corps members that would be deployed as presiding officers and want to commence the ROOT training of students in the various institutions of higher learning, the continued strike has made this impossible.
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye made this remark on Thursday at a seminar in Abuja on the theme, “Media and Gender Sensitive Reporting of Elections.
He therefore called on ASUU and the Federal Government “to quickly and genuinely resolve the lingering impasse that has led to uncertainty in the education sector.”
He said: “It is next to impossibility for the members of the National Youth Service Corps to provide all the ad-hoc staff needs and requirement of the Commission and over 70 per cent of the ad-hoc staff requirements in some states of the federation are drawn from students of Federal Tertiary institutions, hence the lingering strike by ASUU will no doubt have serious impact on the preparations for the conduct of the 2019 elections.”
“It is important that students of Federal Tertiary institutions should and must be in school at least a month before the February 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections. They are a critical resource and their absence will have adverse effect on the ad-hoc requirements of the Independent National Electoral Commission,”Okoye said.
Barr Okoye also disclosed that the over 1 million staff would function as returning officers, collation officers, supervisory presiding officers, presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.
On the role of the media in the coverage of the elections, Okoye said: “For the media to cover disseminate and report election activities in an objective and professional manner, it is imperative for INEC to constantly interact with, explain and be upfront in providing information to the media to avoid speculation , suspicion and rumour mongering especially at this critical period.”
He said “INEC is wrapped around inclusivity and believes in the doctrine of not leaving any segment of the society in elections and providing a level playing field for all stakeholders in all stages of the electoral process.”