The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday issued a warning that the country’s ongoing fuel shortage could complicate election day operations.
However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, Limited’s has assured the electoral commission that there would be an enough supply of fuel during the election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated during a consultative meeting with representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, that the purpose of the meeting was to finalize the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, that had been signed between the commission and the union on December 20, 2022.
He pointed out that logistics had been a recurring concern in Nigerian election management.
Yakubu said, “The commission shares your concern about the fuel situation in the country and its impact on transportation on election day. The truth is that our arrangements may be negatively affected by the non-availability of products.
“For this reason, the commission will this afternoon (yesterday) meet with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, to look into ways to ameliorate the situation.
“I wish to assure Nigerians that we will continue to engage every national institution for the success of the 2023 general election.
“That is why for three electoral cycles now, INEC has collaborated with the road transport unions to address the problem. For the 2023 General Elections, the Commission has included the Marine Workers’ Union of Nigeria, MWUN, for efficient maritime transportation.
“The time has come to stop all excuses and provide effective logistics to ensure hitch-free logistics on Election Day. Nigerians should not wait for the arrival of personnel and materials at the polling units. Rather, we should be there waiting for the arrival of voters. We believe that this is achievable. Recent elections have shown that by working in partnership with the unions and other stakeholders, we can achieve the objective. This is a patriotic duty and we should make the necessary sacrifice in the national interest.
“The commission is aware that this is an enormous task. An election is the largest deployment a nation periodically undertakes and mobilisation of vehicles for election is a large and complex exercise. However, this comes only once in four years.
‘’What is critical here is planning. We have presented to the union the number and specifications of the vehicles required for the election. We have also indicated to you the locations where the vehicles are needed.
“Happily, your members are spread across the country. Therefore, vehicles conveying personnel and materials will not travel long distances. All movements should be within a state and preferably within local government areas.’’
Meanwhile, after a separate meeting with the INEC boss, the NNPCL, on its part, assured INEC of adequate fuel supply, noting that the current scarcity would not affect election day logistics.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, who gave the assurance after the troubleshooting visit by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, said: “We know that logistics is a major component of electoral duties.
“NNPC has always supported INEC, not in this direct form, in making sure that fuel is made available to all vehicles that are involved in the electoral process.
“Needless to say that there was no formal framework for that, and there were no even formal requests for this. All the same, we are always conscious of the necessity to provide support to INEC whenever elections take place.
“Today’s very different, Mr Chairman, it’s not just an honour to NNPC, it’s also a challenge for us, to come into the equation in making sure that we have a stable political system in our country and we’ll be happy to contribute to this.
“Having said this, we are the largest downstream company in the country today. Six months ago, it was not so but today, we have acquired huge assets since our incorporation into a limited liability company and we have spread across the country.
‘’That is not to say that we are in every city and every town, it is possible that there may be some locations where we may not be present.
“We will work with your logistics team to identify those areas where we may not have a presence so that we can bring in other marketing companies into the conversation so that the products are made available to all the 100,000 vehicles you have indicated.
“There will be no difficulty doing this, Mr Chairman, we have a presence, we are everywhere. But where we are not, we will provide commercial conversation between the commission and other marketing companies so that when you need this product, you will have it.
“Also in addition to this, we are the only company that has floating mega stations in the country. We will also look at this and see how we can make it available for marine operations in the riverine areas of our country.’’
Yakubu, earlier, noted that INEC was mobilizing about 100,000 vehicles and 4,000 boats for the deployment of personnel and materials to 176,846 polling units spread across 8,809 registration areas (or electoral Wards) in 774 local government areas nationwide.
Yakubu advocated using NNPC land and floating mega stations nationwide to service INEC’s poll duty vehicles and boats, even though he acknowledged that NNPC had taken initiatives to seriously ameliorate the existing situation.
“We will bear the cost of the products. By doing so, there will be a guaranteed supply for elections.
“We want a special arrangement with other marketers in locations where the NNPC may not have dedicated stations; and, consider other options to support our seamless operations on election day,” the INEC boss said.