The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Mahmood Yakubu, says the commission will continue to place a premium on the safety of corps members on election duty.

Yakubu said this Friday in Abuja as he directed the committee’s management to pay a courtesy call to Acting Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Ms. Christy Uba.

He described the role of police officers as the most critical in the election process.

According to the chairman, the corps members operate at the most important election level, namely the voting cell, the only level where citizens actually vote.

“For that reason, we will also extend insurance coverage in case of injury or other emergencies to all corps members involved in election service.

“In cooperation with the security services, we will also extend protection and security to the lodges of the youth corps members when they are deployed in the field on election days.

“This is because we have had unfortunate experiences before, when some gangsters in some places raided the lodges of the Corps members while they were on election duty.

“So we will continue to take all necessary steps to protect and ensure the safety and well-being of members of the Corps,” Yakubu assured.

The chairman said the committee will continue to operate within the framework of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the committee and the NYSC.

He also assured that there would be training and retraining of the ad hoc staff, the majority of whom were youth corps members in handling election technology.

“They will be responsible for managing polling stations, managing election resources, including sensitive material, voter accreditation and using the Bimodal Voter Registration System (BVRS) on election days.”

According to Yakubu, the corps members are more involved once the voting processes are over.

“They record the results on the results sheets.

“Once all party agents have signed, they are responsible for capturing the result at that level, using the BVRS, and sending it in real time.”

Yakubu said the committee was fully ready for the upcoming general election.

The chairman says that INEC will ensure that all materials and personnel arrive at their respective destinations on time and that the polling stations also open quickly.

Uba responded to this, expressing the NYSC’s continued willingness to cooperate with the committee, adding that much had been achieved over time.

According to her, the corps members are eager for the upcoming election as the young people are very interested in it and will make sure they work hard to make things right.

However, she said the scheme and committee were expected to play their part.

“In preparation for the 2023 general election, we have instructed state coordinators to encourage corps members to register on the INEC portal, and I believe they have done so.

“The Corps Welfare and Services Department is expected to visit states to assure Corps members and personnel of INEC and NYSC’s commitment to their safety during election duties.

“This is to further encourage them given the situation we are in. They need to be assured that their safety is being taken care of.”

Uba said state coordinators had been instructed to combine names and phone numbers of key security personnel in the states and local government areas for distribution to corps members wishing to participate in the exercise.

She said all state coordinators had also been instructed to liaise with all Directorate of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies to identify crisis-prone areas in the state.

According to her, such volatile areas will be forwarded to NYSC headquarters for review.

Uba said that given the number of corps members INEC would need, the scheme had closed plans to hold the 2023 Batch A Stream One course in January.

This, she said, would add to the number of corps members available to participate in the process.

“We have to work in our current reality, there is a need to review the fees paid to the corps members.

“The chairman should please look at the conditions and ensure some improvement as contained in the MoU,” said Uba.

Both organizations are reported to have signed a revision of the MoU in March 2022, in preparation for the February general election.

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