Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has guaranteed that disabled National Youth Corps members would serve as presiding officers in the general election in 2023.
He made this affirmation when he accompanied a delegation of National Commissioners, Directors, and the technical team to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) headquarters in Abuja today for a courtesy visit.
He said: “INEC is an equal opportunities employer. We want to give every Nigerian the opportunity not only to vote, irrespective of circumstances like a physical challenge, but also to participate in the conduct of elections where necessary.
“In Osun State, for the first time, we included corps members who had physical disabilities (as ad-hoc staff for the governorship election) and spoke to the security agencies, political parties, and the communities to protect these corps members. And they (corps members) discharged their duties like every other Nigerian. We were impressed by what we did in Osun and we will involve all corps members, irrespective of their disabilities as Presiding Officers for the (2023) general election.”
The NYSC administration was also praised by the INEC Chairman for consistently supporting the Commission over the years. In his words: “We are here to thank you, DG (Director General), and the NYSC for your consistent support. The truth is that INEC cannot conduct elections without the NYSC. I have said it severally and I won’t be tired of saying that our national youth corps members are the most educated, reliable, readily available, patriotic, the largest number of election duty staff in the country, and the youngest.”
In keeping with the terms of the current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Commission and the NYSC, he promised that the Commission will continue to operate. Meanwhile, he gave his hosts the assurance that INEC will keep placing a high priority on the security of corps members performing their duties.
He said: “We have insurance cover in the event of an injury or other emergencies for all corps members involved in election duty. And working with the security agencies, we will also extend protection and security to the youth corps members’ lodges when they deploy to the field on election day. We had unhappy experiences before when some hoodlums raided the corpers’ lodges in some places while the youth corps members were out on election duty. We will continue to do whatever it takes to protect and guarantee the security and welfare of the youth corps members.”
In response, the NYSC’s acting director general, Mrs. Christy Uba, vowed that the NYSC will keep working with INEC to carry out its mission. Regarding preparations for the general election in 2023, she said that the NYSC administration had instructed State Coordinators to encourage corps members to register for the election on the INEC Portal (before the deadline).
She added that the personnel from the Corps Welfare and Health Services Department had traveled to the States to reassure staff and corps members of NYSC/dedication INEC’s to their safety while performing election-related duties.