As Nigerians troop out to vote the candidates of their choice during the general elections, starting from Saturday, the welfare and safety of members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, participating as ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is of importance.
The use of NYSC members to prosecute elections in Nigeria has come to stay but one issue that requires answer is the welfare of these corps members during the conduct of the exercise.
During the postponed elections, Corps members lamented that they were poorly treated by INEC.
These Corps members lamented that they were made to sleep in open halls and on the floor ahead of the postponed election, despite INEC claiming otherwise.
Photographs of corps members mobilised for the national duty emerged as they slept in abandoned vehicles, under trees, on trees, in classrooms and in open fields under unsavoury conditions.
However, INEC had several insisted that the welfare of these Corps members is of utmost importance to it.
In this light, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, had said: “We made adequate arrangements. It’s unfortunate that we found out that some corps members slept in the open.
“We made provisions for mattresses, mats, pillows, and toiletries. In some of the areas, probably, those materials weren’t mobilised in good time to get to the corps members. There may be other issues which we don’t know yet.
“But, we are on top of the situation because when we started hearing these (negative) reports, we contacted our state offices and the issues are been addressed at the moment.”
During the conduct of the 2015 general elections, several Corps members lost their lives due to violence, this leaves much to be imagined bearing in mind the present security challenges especially in the North East.
Though INEC had at several fora assured of Corps members’ security but the security of these Corps members can’t be guaranteed especially in the North East.
Following the uncertainty over their security and poor welfare during the conduct of the elections, some Corps members had opted to boycott Saturday’s elections.
Despite the challenges, experts are, however, of the opinion that theses Corps member should not boycott the elections because it’s part of one’s service to their father’s land.
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Speaking with PULSE NAIJA, Peter Momoh said: “I see no reason why Corps members should boycott the elections due to poor welfare and insecurity. If you have been following the briefings, INEC had assured that their welfare and security would be adequately looked into so why abandon the project now?
“This is part of service to their father’s land and the experience they get in the process might help them some day.”
Need to Insure Corps members.
One of the best ways to assure these Corps members of their safety and welfare is the need for the government to get a temporary life Issurance for them.
In the event of violence during the exercise and Corps members are injured or even killed, the insurance will serve as a compensation.
A Civil Servant, Yakubu Chundum said ” I think government should also insure this Corps member, they are people’s children and no parent after labouring so hard to send their wards to school will be happy to hear they were killed or heavily injured during elections.”