From Tony John, Port Harcourt
National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has declared that it would not take part in the next Saturday concluding rerun legislative elections in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State.
State Coordinator of NYSC, Omotayo Adewoye, stated this yesterday, during a stakeholders’ meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), service commanders, political parties and candidates, in respect of the rerun polls held at the Police Command Headquarters, Moscow, Port Harcourt. Adewoye said the NYSC management took into cognisance violence that had characterised previous elections in the state, which, according to him, claimed life of a corps member.
He said: “We have had causes to pay supreme sacrifices in the country. They (NYSC members) will not take part because of the violence in the last rerun elections. “I don’t have the wherewithal to say go ahead and participate in the elections or don’t participate. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed at the commencement of this partnership between the NYSC and INEC and when a call is made on us to feature in any election, I, as the chief executive of the NYSC in the state, I have to call the national directorate headquarters, headed by a director general.
“I have contacted him and the advice that I am receiving is that, because of the violence that attended the last election, in which case our corps members were at the receiving end of assault on their personality by politicians, we may not be able to vouch for their security this time around.
“Because of that, even though they (INEC) asked me to forward names of interested corps members to INEC office, which I have not filed up till now because I am still awaiting the final say from my headquarters. I just admonished them, those interested, go and feature in the training, but it does not mean you are taking part.
“Some of them showed interest, but if they do so, and they feature in the election, they are on their own.
“After this meeting, I will call headquarters and tell them what I experienced in today’s meeting. One thing is to make appeals and promises, another thing is to ensure that there is security.
“These are people who will come and waylay these children on their way during the elections and even after the elections, they will not allow them to reach their destinations.
“So, anybody, who says he’s going to take part, should have a second thought,” the NYSC boss warned. Earlier, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, said between 2000 and 2015, the commission had recorded highest loss of staff members than any agency in the country. Ikoiwak advised INEC personnel participating in the forthcoming concluding elections to exhibit professionalism and consider the risk of losing their jobs, if found involved in any electoral fraud.
He said voting would take place in 147 polling units within the 19 registration areas, adding that sensitive materials would arrive on Friday and the commission would not make use of external staffers to conduct the elections.
Meanwhile, convener of the meeting and acting Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Magaji, assured of the preparedness of security agents to provide fair playing field for parties taking part in the elections.
Magaji reiterated that police would remain apolitical before, during and after the elections and warned officers and men of the command to desist from acts of unprofessionalism, that would endanger their jobs.
He also urged politicians to shun acts capable of marring the exercise and make the February 25 rerun polls to be the last.
However, party leaders and candidates participating in the elections have promised to demonstrate good conduct, but tasked INEC and security agencies to be transparent in the elections.