Some corps members released by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Anambra to work as ad hoc poll staff in the proposed January 13 Anambra Central Senatorial election have declined the offer.
Some of the corps members, who pleaded anonymity, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they are not interested due to the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to pay their allowance during the Nov. 18 governorship election.
They complained that some of their colleagues who took part in the last exercise were still coming for their money after they had passed out and left Anambra.
Confirming the situation, Mr Ebenezer Olawale, the NYSC Coordinator in Anambra, said only about 4,000 corps members out of about 7,600 shortlisted and released reported for INEC training for the Jan. 13 election duty.
Olawale noted that the NYSC would make available any number of corps members requested by INEC for its election duties but reiterated that participation was not compulsory.
“NYSC is prepared because they are already training our corps members
“INEC said they needed 7,627 Corps members and we have released as much as that for them, however, it is left for the corps members to accept.
“We are not compelling our corps members to do it, it not compulsory; it is a voluntary assignment.
“The last election, INEC promised to take care of them as much as possible but some of them complained that they were treated badly, that could discourage them from participating in this one.
“Some of them complained of not being paid their allowances for the last gubernatorial election.
“It may not be entirely INEC responsibility because some of them did not write their names and numbers correctly, and others did not have their data well recorded, some of them are still being treated now.
“I am told that out of the over 7,000 we released to them, only about 4,000 indicated interest and responded to their training,” he said.
Olawale explained that INEC should create a forum where all the affected corps members would be addressed and their fears allayed, instead of attending to them piece meal.
He urged corps members participating in election to remain neutral and unbiased as always and discharge their duties with all fairness to all.
Also speaking, Dr Nkwachkwu Orji, Resident Electoral Commission, INEC, in Anambra said that they have mobilised all the manpower needed for the exercise.
Orji, who acknowledged that some corps members have not been paid their allowance, attributed the problem to incomplete information provided by the corps members.
He dismissed the notion that the corps shunned the duty call because of nonpayment of allowance for previous assignment.
The REC said out of the 23,000 ad-hoc staff engaged in the Nov. 18 governorship election over 20,000 had been paid and promised to continue to address the complaints on nonpayment as they come.
“It is not true that they did not respond to our call because of nonpayment of allowance.
“When we conducted the training some of them were still in their villages enjoying Christmas and New Year; we have mobilised enough staff, this is just election in seven local government areas.
“The population that is yet to receive their allowance is quite few, we engaged about 23,000 and about 20,000 have been paid and we are still paying,” he said.