INEC Seeks Air Force Support For Off-Cycle Elections

L-R Chief of Air Staff, HB Abubakar and INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, during the courtesy visit
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By Akombo Aondona, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday 29 January 2024 solicited the logistics support of the Nigerian Air Force, (NAF) for logistics delivery ahead of off-cycle elections in the country.

Chairman, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, led a delegation of the commission top officials and media team to NAF headquarters and were received by the Chief Of Air Staff, Air Marshal H. B Abubakar at his office in Abuja.

Prof. Yakubu commended the Air Chief for his cooperation with the INEC since assumption of office.

He said: “I would like to commend NAF for your cooperation in the area of election security and logistic support for the timely delivery of materials during general elections, off-cycle elections, bye-elections, supplementary elections and re-run elections. I want to place on record the neutrality and professionalism of NAF in particular and armed forces in general in discharging your responsibilities. There has been no unhappy incidents or compromise on the part of your officers and airmen.

“This weekend, the Commission will conduct bye-elections and re-run elections in 26 States of the Federation. In nine States, two Senators, four members of the House of Representatives and three members of State Houses of Assembly will be elected in bye-elections to replace members who passed on or resigned their memberships of the national and State Assemblies. In other States, re-run elections will take place at designated constituencies or Polling Units as ordered by the Election Appeal Tribunals. In all the elections will fill vacancies in three Senatorial Districts, 17 Federal and 28 State Constituencies spread across 80 Local Government Areas, 575 Registration Areas/Wards and 8,934 Polling Units involving 4,904,627 registered voters out of which 4,613,291 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) have been collected.

“In handling such a huge national assignment, the Commission cannot do it alone. That is why we seek to mobilise every national asset, including NAF. It is in realisation of this objective that the law empowers the Commission to seek the support of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the delivery of materials and the protection of election officials as clearly provided for in Section 27(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

“The elections are holding this weekend. Working with the Central Bank of Nigeria, materials are being delivered to many locations. However, given the size and distance of some constituencies, we seek for the support of NAF to expeditiously deliver materials to three locations in the North East, South East and the South West geo-political zones of the country. We have already indicated to the Chief of the Air Staff the specific locations and the tonnage of materials to be airlifted.

“The evacuation of the materials from the focal airports to the States where election will hold will be handled by the Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria as has been the standard practice. Thereafter, the inspection and movement of all materials to the various Local Government Areas and beyond will be done with the full participation of all stakeholders, particularly agents of political parties and candidates, observers and the media in a transparent manner”.

Responding, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal H B Abubakar, thanked the INEC Chairman and his entourage for the courtesy visit and promised NAF support to the Commission to deliver on their mandate.

He said Nigeria remained a shinning example for other nations of the world despite the coubtry’s challenges.

Abubakar said: ” Our beloved country stands out as a shining example for other nations of the world and is well renowned as the largest economy and democracy in Africa. The success of our democracy has been underpinned by strong institutions like the Independent National Electoral Commission, which works tirelessly to allow all citizens to enjoy the right to decide who should govern them in free and fair elections. The invaluable contributions of the INEC distinguishes democracy as a form of governance unparalleled in its commitment to the people. Furthermore, it lends credence to the slogan that democracy is the best form of government known to man.

“I would like to commend Mr Chairman for the numerous initiatives which have occurred under your watch. Some of which included continuous voter registration, introduction of new technologies, voter education and sensitization and post-election reviews. Another laudable milestone achieved was the Electoral Act of 2022, which introduced reforms aimed at more timely organization of pre-electoral processes and increasing transparency in results collation and reporting. These and many more reforms have raised the bar of transparency and credibility in our electoral process. We thus join the chorus of voices commending your efforts and stand proud as friends of your esteemed organisation.

“The relationship between the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and your organisation has been anchored on shared objectives geared towards ensuring that good governance, stability and the rule of law reign throughout Nigeria. We therefore see your visit to us today as a sign of your commitment to strengthen the bonds between both organisations.

“The successful conduct of elections is largely hinged on robust security and well-choreographed logistics supply chain management. The Nigerian Air Force has been INEC’s dependable partner in providing security in addition to rapid airlift for the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials across the country. I assure you that we remain willing able and ready to continue supporting INEC as we have always done in the past.

” At the moment, our C-130s are currently undergoing maintenance but we have other aircraft that can be employed to move sensitive materials. The caveat is that we need to move those materials a little earlier due to the capacity of the airplanes which we have available.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and his entourage for coming all the way to visit us today. I believe that this encounter will serve as a platform for even greater cooperation and synergy between the Nigerian Air Force and INEC. We are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and the positive impact we can collectively make Nigeria stand strong as the giant of Africa.”

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