As preparations for the 2023 general elections heat up, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has requested the assistance of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for the airlift of electoral materials, and personnel for the smooth conduct of the polls.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, by the Director of Public Relations and Information NAF, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet.
According to the statement, the INEC chairman made the request when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, at the Headquarters NAF (HQ NAF), Abuja.
In addition, Professor Yakubu also sought NAF assistance in handling the delivery of outstanding election materials for the governorship elections holding in Ekiti and Osun states in June and July 2022.
According to the chairman, his visit is basically aimed at exploring ways of ensuring effective collaborative efforts with other stakeholders to address issues related to aspects of poor electoral logistics management, in which the NAF has a critical role to play.
According to him, “This will be extended to other Armed Services in our determination to efficiently deliver materials and more efficiently serve Nigerians on Election Day”, he said.
He noted that the law empowers the commission to seek the support of the security agencies and especially the Armed Forces in delivering materials for the election and the protection of election officials. While commending the NAF for its neutrality and professionalism, the INEC chairman stated that the collaboration with the NAF has been of tremendous benefit to the electoral process and the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
Responding, Air Marshal Amao assured the INEC Chairman of the readiness of the NAF to provide transport aircraft to enable prompt movement of electoral materials during the 2023 general elections. He commended INEC for stabilizing the electoral process in Nigeria.
According to him, “as the electioneering season gradually picks up, we are aware of the need to coordinate the movement of INEC logistics such as election materials and staff to remote areas preparatory to the forthcoming general election in February 2023. I believe further liaison with us is necessary to enable us to incorporate INEC activities in our operational plans.”
Air Marshal Amao also stated that the NAF would continue to render all necessary assistance and support to make INEC more efficient in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities. He then directed that a Committee comprising INEC and NAF personnel be constituted to coordinate an airlift of electoral materials and other logistics movements for an itch-free electioneering exercise.