By NBF News

TO ensure dedication and commitment from those to take part in the voter registration exercise as well as April general elections, all the ad-hoc staff to be engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are to be provided with a comprehensive life insurance policy. In addition, each of the ad-hoc staff to be engaged in voter registration would be paid the sum of N30,000.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who unfolded the incentives at a joint media briefing with the Director-General of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), Brig-Gen. Maharazu Ismaila Tsiga at INEC headquarters in Abuja believed the packages would motivate, enhance and encourage the young men and women in the NYSC to put in their best for the service of the country.

Jega commended the role played by the corps members in the course of the January 6 governorship re-run in Delta State, despite some obvious logistics challenges, noting that the lessons learnt from the lapses would be used to correct the future conduct of the elections.

But Tsiga advised the corps members to be deployed on the exercise to take additional security pre-caution. One of such is that they should avoid confronting those who might want to hijack ballot boxes during elections, saying that the security agencies deployed to the election venues should do so.

However, the two officials pledged adequate security protection for all the corps members and undergraduate students who will be engaged in the national assignments, beginning with voter registration which commenced last Saturday and the general elections scheduled for April.

Jega said INEC had been working very closely with all arms of security to provide security cover to the young men and women in the NYSC and other ad-hoc staff as they go about their jobs during the exercises.

'In addition to that, INEC has taken group comprehensive life insurance coverage for the corps member as well as ad-hoc staff who are going to participate in both the voter registration and the election proper. We believe that we have to do everything possible to motivate, encourage and inspire people to give their best for their country and we believe that with these additional incentives provided we will get our corps members and pupils in tertiary institutions and staff to give in their best under any circumstances.'

Jega admitted that there was no enough monetary compensation that would reward the participants in the forthcoming voter registration, nevertheless, he said the commission would strive to make little funds available to them within its budgetary limit. 'Accordingly, as we prepare for this exercise, all ad-hoc staff from the NYSC to those from the tertiary institutions who are involved will be paid N30,000 each for the duration of the voter registration exercise.

'The payment of the allowance is segmented into two: N10,000 will be paid in advance before they get into the field and N20,000 will be paid to them at the completion of the exercise. Obviously, no monetary compensation will be paid for their patriotism and sacrifice, but we hope they will take the offer and accept it in good fate and give their best to the country in the process of the need for greater patriotism and service for the country.'

Jega noted that the just concluded training of corps member for the voter registration exercise also posed some challenges, including that of logistics. For instance, he admitted that the allowances that were paid to the staff for the three-day duration of training to cover feeding and allowance was barely N1,000 per day for the three days of the exercise.

'Again, we know that this is very inadequate and we are doing our best in future to see that we can bring remarkable improvements in this regard. But we plead that people should understand that we have to operate within budgetary constraints and this really was the basis upon which such payments were made.

'Therefore, we will continue to plead that in the events of these lapses, we will continue to improve upon them, because organising a voter registration in a country such as ours is a very challenging and enormous task and we are doing our best to ensure that everything goes on smoothly and by God's grace, things will go on smoothly.'

Tsiga doused rumours that the corps members who are due to pass out next month would have their service year extended because of the voter registration, saying, there was no reason for their service year to be extended. He assured that they would pass out on schedule, as not an extra hour would be added to them because 'they have not committed any offence that would warrant that.'

But he said they would still be mobilised, urging them to see it as part of their contributions to the growth and development of the country. He, however, warned the corps member taking part in the two exercises that any one of them found to have been in collusion with unpatriotic politicians to commit fraud would have his/her certificate withdrawn after fully investigated and the degree of their collusion established.

He advised corps members against resisting politicians who might want to engage in ballot box snatching, adding, 'NYSC personnel are not security agents, therefore anybody who wants to snatch ballot box, they should not resist because the security agents are there to protect the boxes, other materials, the staff and of course, including the NYSC members.'