INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance at the inauguration of the Electoral Operations and Logistics Committee (EOLC) on Friday in Abuja.
Recall that the commission had postponed the general elections in 2019 due to logistics and operational problems. The commission announced the shocking decision just hours before the opening of polls after repeatedly assuring Nigerians and international observers it was ready for the elections.
Many Nigerians condemned the postponement, especially its timing, and accused the commission of insensitivity. But speaking on Friday, Yakubu said the commission was determined to ensure that such incident never occurred again.
Yakubu said the committee has 9-point Terms of Reference and 27-point Duties and Functions.
“I urge you to commence your meeting immediately and be submitting periodic reports through the Chairman of the Committee, who is an INEC National Commissioner. In this way, we will be tracking progress and know well in advance of potential weak links in the logistics chain. We will also be updating Nigerians of progress we are making on regular basis.
“We are determined that never again should elections be postponed at the eleventh hour on account of logistics.
That is why we are mobilising every national asset and starting the engagement early,” the INEC boss stated.
Yakubu said the establishment of the Committee was borne out of the commission’s effort to ensure the speedy and safe delivery of huge quantities of sensitive and non-sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections.
According to him, the logistics for the clearance, handling, custody, delivery and distribution of enormous quantities of election materials is the biggest operation Nigeria undertakes every four years.
He said for effective coordination, the Commission believes that every national asset must be mobilised.
He added: “For the movement of election materials and protection of personnel nationwide, Section 27(3) of the Electoral Act 2022 empowers the Commission to seek for the support of the armed forces. Accordingly, the three armed services (Army, Navy and Air Force) are members of ELoC. Similarly, the Nigeria Police Force, being the lead agency in election security, is also a member as well as the sister security agencies.
“The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) are also members pursuant to their statutory responsibilities for the clearance and release of materials at seaports and other entry points into the country.
“At our various airports, aviation agencies such as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Air Space Management Agency (NAMA) play important roles, including the facilitation of access to all airports nationwide for shuttle services for elections as the need arises. So are the aviation handling companies – Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO)– in the provision of ground facilities for loading and offloading of cargo at airports.
“Furthermore, in 2019, some of the flights conveying essential electoral materials could not land at some airports because of poor visibility. Accordingly, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) is a member of ELoC to provide expert advice on weather-related issues to facilitate proper and efficient planning and delivery of materials.”