The Independent National Electoral Commission has raised fresh fears that the ongoing face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities could be a serious threat to the conduct of 2019 general elections.
The commission also stressed that it would deploy over one million ad-hoc staff made up of lecturers in federal tertiary institutions, including ASUU, members of the National Youth Service Corps and students of federal tertiary institutions.
The categories of ad-hoc staff to be used during next year’s election would serve as Returning Officers, Collation Officers, Supervisory Presiding Officers, and Assistant Presiding Officers.
A National Commissioner for INEC and chairman of its Information and other Education Committee, Festus Okoye, raised these issues during the opening ceremony of a one-day seminar on media gender-sensitive reporting.
The event was organised by INEC and supported by United Nations Women and Canadian government.
Okoye said, “It is next to impossibility for members of the NYSC to provide all the ad-hoc staff needs and requirements of the commission and over 70 per cent of the ad-hoc staff requirement in some states of the federation are drawn from students of federal tertiary institutions.
“Hence, the lingering strike by ASUU will no doubt have a serious impact on the preparations for the conduct of the 2019 elections. We, therefore, call on ASUU and the Federal Government of Nigeria to quickly and genuinely resolve the lingering impasse that has led to uncertainty in the education sector.
“The national interest, the interest of our democracy and the reputation of Nigeria demands the immediate resolution of the issues that led to the strike and we so urge.
“It is important that students in federal tertiary institutions should and must be in school at least a month before the February 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections. They are a critical resource and their absence will have adverse effects on the ad-hoc requirements of INEC.” NAN