As next month’s governorship bye-election in Adamawa State draws nearer, the National Youths Service Corps, NYSC, has spelt out stringent conditions which must be satisfied by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before serving corps members could be released for the polls.
Sources at the headquarters of the NYSC in Abuja told Vanguard that the conditions include provision of bullet-proof vests, armed escorts and payment of attractive allowances.
It was also learnt that the NYSC had insisted that participation by corps members in the forth-coming polls would be made voluntary.
An impeccable source told Vanguard that the Director General of NYSC, Brig. Gen. Johnson Olawumi had insisted that he was not ready to lose any corps member on any account.
The NYSC boss was said to have insisted that the issue of adequate security for corps members should not be handled with kid-gloves.
The source said that NYSC would not take any position on whether to release corps members or not until those conditions given to INEC were substantially met.
The source further stated that the number of corps members currently serving in Adamawa State is not enough for the conduct of the election adding that there would be need to mobilise corps members from neighbouring states for the polls.
Speaking in a similar vein on the subject earlier, Mr Kayode Idowu, the Special Adviser on Media to Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega told Vanguard that the Inter-consultative Committee on Election Security which undertakes risk assessment of electoral contests would determine security measures that the Commission would implement during conduct of the election.
Said he: “The committee would advise the commission and also draw up its own operational orders that suits the assessment that has been done.”
He further stated that the committee is doing its work now, “so it may be pre-emptive to say whether or not the template we have will suit that election.”
He further stated that INEC had also deployed a risk management tool that was developed with support from the African Union and the International Idea. “We deployed it in Osun and we would deploy it Adamawa too”, he said.
He explained that the tool enables the Commission “to do the risk assessment of particular places and the factors peculiar to them. All these would be factored in by the Commission in decision making.” He further assured that INEC shares the sensitivity of Nigerians who are apprehensive over the deployment of corpers in the state given the high level of insecurity prevailing there.
Said he: “ There is no responsible organisation that would deliver innocent youths into the lion’s den.”
He explained that if corpers were to be deployed as adhoc staff for the polls, “ it would be based on the guarantee that they are secured; otherwise, INEC would not expose them to danger. If both INEC and NYSC are convinced that they are secured, then the corpers would be deployed.We would consult the NYSC.”
He stressed that there is a dynamic relationship between INEC and NYSC.
Said he: “The collaboration has taken a depth that is unusual. In Osun, we didn’t have enough corpers. However, the Director-General of NYSC, mobilized corpers from the surrounding states to handle the last election.
“The NYSC released the corpers to us because their safety and welfare was guaranteed. When people complain about militarization of elections, this is one of the reasons why it happens. This is because we need adequate security for men, materials and voters.”
As at the time of filing this report, NYSC and the electoral Commission were holding a crucial meeting over the issue.