Voter subsidy, a patriotic gesture

The gesture by some corporate entities, namely, Aero Contractors, Arik Air, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), ABC Transport Plc and Travelstart Nigeria, to assist Nigerian electorate to travel to various destinations for the purpose of voting is highly commendable.

The patriotic gesture, to a large extent, accounted for the massive turn out of voters witnessed nationwide in last Saturday’s presidential and national assembly elections.

The postponement of the presidential and national assembly elections from February 16, 2019, to February 23, 2019, and governorship and state houses of assemble elections from March 2, 2019, to March 9, 2019, few hours to the commencement of voting, had raised apprehension of voter apathy among Nigerians.

The apprehension of voter apathy arose from the fact that many people who had travelled to their home states to exercise their franchise had to return to their bases following the last minute shift of the election dates by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The implication was that, having spent a lot of money on transport fares and other inconveniences suffered, this category of electorate may not be willing to undertake another round of travelling in order to cast their votes.

 Fortunately, however, the patriotic zeal and the sense of corporate social responsibility by the aforementioned non-governmental organisations went a long way to prevent what would have been the lowest voter turnout in Nigeria’s electoral history and consequently bringing the nation to disrepute and low esteem before the comity of nations.

The spokesperson for Aero Contractors, Mr. Chika Ubendu, said the airline subsidised its fares by 50 per cent as its own contribution to support the conduct of successful general elections and also to encourage the citizens to travel to where they can cast their votes.

“Effective February 18, Aero would begin sale of tickets from N16, 000 for travels between February 21 and February 25 on all her routes to encourage Nigerians to travel to their various destinations in order to cast their votes,” Ubendu said.

Arik Air’s spokesperson, Mr. Adebanji Ola, said the N16, 000 Fly to Vote promo was in place to ameliorate the effect of the postponement on the traveling public and encourage voter participation.

“The N16, 000 promotional fare is the one-way ticket cost to any domestic destination on Arik Air’s network and customers must present a valid Permanent Voter Card (PVC) at the point of purchase and at check in to be eligible to fly.

“The Fly to Vote Promotion is available for sale from February 18 till March 11 for travel between February 21 and February 26 as well as March 7 till March 12.

As part of its corporate social responsibility, the management of ABC Transport Plc, a road transport and logistics company equally announced subsidised fares for passengers travelling on its Sprinter and Executive Express Coach services nationwide, for the purpose of elections.

This subsidised fare, it said, applies for travels between February 22 and 25, and aimed at encouraging and assisting Nigerian citizens who would need to travel in order to participate in the rescheduled presidential and national assembly elections.

In an attempt to contribute its quota to a successful general elections, Travelstart, a Nigerian online travel agency, also declared that its customers would enjoy a 25 per cent discount on all local flights between February 19 and December 31, 2019.

Themed, “Based on Logistics,” the agency said it is looking to ease the financial burden of travel due to the postponement of the general elections. Speaking about the campaign, Commercial Manager, Travelstart Nigeria, Bukky Akomolafe, while shedding light on the promo said: “At Travelstart, we empathise with our customers and the financial burden that the additional travel expenses may have.

We care very much about their welfare, which is why we have put together this campaign, especially at such crucial time. We are also extending our working hours on Friday to enable us treat all incoming customer requests.”

National President of IPMAN, Chinedu Okworonkwo, said IPMAN was prompted to slash N5 from the N145 per litre official petroleum pump price in a bid to motivate Nigerians to return to vote again on February 23.

“We urge all our members across Nigeria to immediately reduce the fuel pump price from N145 per litre to N140 per litre. This is because of the political situation that hit the country after INEC suddenly announced the postponement of presidential and national assembly elections after Nigerians were fully prepared.

”According to the statement, which was signed by Bashir Dan-Malam, chairman of the association’s Kano chapter, the price slash would be in force between February 20 and Monday, February 25.

Although IPMAN may have failed to compel its members nationwide to reduce petroleum pump price from N145 per litre to N140, its gesture is, nonetheless, praise worthy and patriotic.

While we acknowledge the contributions of these corporate organisations to the development of the nation’s democracy, it is pertinent to urge other stakeholders in the Nigeria project to take a cue in the efforts to build a virile nation.

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