Abuja – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said a staggering N85 billion had been earmarked for logistics in the 2019 general elections.
The election umpire also disclosed that it had reached agreement with two military formations to enlist personnel of the Nigerian Navy and Air Force to enable it access difficult terrains during the polls.
Amina Zakari, INEC’s new Head of Health and Welfare, made the disclosure at a discussion which the commission held on Wednesday with transport unions, including NURTW, RTEAN, and NARTO.
She said: “We have earmarked N85 billion on logistics for the 2019 general elections.
“For a two-day election, which is the least number of days to conduct election, it cost about N10 billion on logistics.
You can imagine what will be involved if we have to take the elections in more than one day like the presidential separately, National Assembly, and even the cost of conducting five elections separately.
“These costs exclude leasing of boats at the riverine areas, additional gunboats for security, hiring helicopter for other areas affected by insurgency and difficult terrain.
“Moving of personnel and materials in those areas is very challenging and these must be done at the same time nationwide. It is worst because about two-third of the country’s territory is covered by difficult terrain.
“The window for the deployment of electoral materials is too short, especially as it must be delivered between 5.00am to 8.00am.
“You can imagine the enormity of the task, considering the size of the country, difficult terrain, and poor road network where the elections have to be conducted.
She added: “Security is of paramount importance and if there is no violence, elections can be done seamlessly
The commission has also enlisted the services of the Air Force and the Navy for deployment, especially to these difficult terrains.
“Recently, a Logistics Advisory Committee was set up with membership drawn from the commission, security agencies and other partners that will help us achieve a seamless transportation of the materials from the sea or airport to the polling stations.
“With over 120,000 polling units, the biggest challenge the commission will encounter is the election day logistics. Our problem will be transportation in terms of movement of electoral materials.”
Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, who stood in for INEC chairman also revealed that about one million electoral officials, comprising the staff and security agents, would be deployed to various locations for the 2019 elections.
In a related development, Abdulsalami Abubakar, former military Head of State and chairman of the National Peace Committee, has said that security would remain a serious challenge.
He listed flashpoints in the forthcoming elections to include North-Eastern states and Rivers.
Abdulsalami also said that INEC would face challenges from the conduct of the primaries by political parties.
“We have identified areas where problems are. So we try to see how we can nip the problems in the bud.
“And you must help us also in giving us information where you think we can intervene. It isn’t only the responsibility of INEC but all Nigerians have a role to play.
“You also can help us to assess political parties and what they are doing. We are all Nigerians, you see what is happening.
“All I can say is that we’ll sanitise the polity to make sure that there are no hate speeches, to make sure that there are decent campaigns during elections, that there will be no name calling and all sorts of undesirable utterances during elections.”
Advising INEC, he said the election umpire should give “assurances that INEC will do the right thing and the political parties will also help them exercise their mandate to do free and fair elections.”