The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said that only the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) members are authorised election officers to handle the Bimodal Voter Authentication System (BVAS) during the February 25 and March 11 general elections.
He said this on Saturday in Abuja, after a tour of the training centre for INEC’s ad-hoc staff or presiding officers, and inspection of facilities of the national collation centre at the International Conference Centre (ICC).
According to him, the commission cannot rely only on its workforce for the conduct of a credible and peaceful election, hence, the need for mobilisation of the NYSC members.
The INEC Chairman who tasked the trainee corps members to be loyal to Nigeria, Nigerians and not political parties, also told them that on no account should they leave the BVAS in the custody of another.
He warned that the corps members are going to be tracked to ensure accountability.
“Nigeria is fortunate to have young citizens like you. There is no way INEC can conduct elections without the NYSC. You are simply indispensable in the conduct of elections in Nigeria. We cannot conduct elections with our workforce alone.
“So we have to rely on you and other categories of staff. But you are going to operate at the most important level of the electoral system; at the polling unit levels because that is where citizens go and vote. All of you will swear an oath of neutrality.
“Your loyalty is to Nigeria and Nigerians and not to any political party or any candidate. You will be the INEC Chairman at your polling unit. You are the king at the polling units.
“You are the only ones that will handle the BVAS at polling units on election day. Take this job seriously. We are tracking you as well so that we can know who is holding which BVAS. Do not give this BVAS to someone else,” Yakubu said.
After visiting the training centre, Yakubu, INEC officials and journalists proceeded to the International Conference Centre (ICC) for inspection.
The INEC boss said that they will perform basically three activities in this ICC which has been serving as the national collation centre for the collation, announcement of winners and presentations of the Certificate of Returns (CoR) to president and vice president elect; as well as the senators and house of representatives members elect.
He said, “There is the Taraba hall that will serve as a media centre for national, and international observers and media organisations. We will also have our own briefing with observers on Tuesday.
“The African hall will serve as the Collation Centre for the presidential election and then beside the hall, it will be our Situation Room where we deploy our platforms; INEC Citizens Contact Centre.”
He added that there would be another portion for people to take a break to drink water.
He said that the entire ICC has been taken over by INEC till the end of the elections and the announcement of winners and presentations of CoR to them.