On Wednesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) provided clarification regarding the alleged distribution of election materials by the Lagos State Parks Management Committee, which is led by Musiliu (MC Oluomo) Akinsanya, a prominent member of the Lagos All Progressives Congress (APC).
This occurred after Olusegun Agbaje, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State, disclosed on Tuesday in Lagos that the commission had authorized MC Oluomo, the former chairman of the city’s National Union of Road Transport Workers, to organize the distribution of election materials by commission-hired drivers.
Agbaje made this known during a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) at the INEC office in Lagos.
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, called on INEC to remove Agbaje as its Lagos REC.
But clarifying the statement during a live interview on Wednesday on News Central TV, the INEC National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said the electoral umpire was not working with Oluomo but with individual drivers who were made to sign individual contracts with the commission.
“I think we need to put the issue in context. We have 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. In all these states and throughout this particular period, ranging from even the 2015 elections up till this particular, we have always used drivers for purpose of distributing election materials. For the 2023 general election, the commission needs at least 138,000 vehicles,” Okoye said.
He continued that “We’re also going to hire at least 4,000 boats, and we’re going to hire at least 88,000 motorcycles to move our personnel and also move our materials across all the states of the Federation.
“We have an MOU with the National Union of Road Transport Workers and that MoU is for them to act as, if you’d permit me to use the word, to put an eye on some of their members to make sure that they do what is right.
“We have a contract with individual drivers. Each driver that is going to convey any of our materials will be given a contractor sign. So, our contract is between the individual driver andthe commission and not with the union.”
We Signed Memorandum With Transport Unions
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Publicity and Voter Education, Festus Okoye stressed that INEC only signed a memorandum of understanding with transport unions so that “if we have hired a particular vehicle and they know their members and the person does not show up on Election day, they will assist us and call the person and find out why the person has not shown up on Election Day.”
He added, “For states that did not have a national union of road transport workers, what we need is a situation where we can be sure that a particular driver belongs to the union or a particular driver can be located on Election Day so that the driver does not collect money and disappear.
“We are also profiling all those drivers through the Federal Road Safety Commission. They will profile them individually and also make sure that the vehicles they are producing are road worthy. So, we have contract with individual drivers, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURT) do not have vehicles, the individuals have. The National Association of Road Transport Owners do not drive vehicles, the individuals do.
“So, it is those drivers that we have contract with. What we have with the unions or any other organs or agencies is a memorandum of understanding. But in terms of moving our election materials and personnel, it is with the individual drivers that we have contract.”