•We have paid, INEC Insists
By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Taxpayers Association of Nigeria (TAPAN) has called for the immediate resignation of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, over alleged non-payment of ad-hoc staff engaged during the 2019 election.
But in a swift reaction, the electoral umpire insisted that it had paid all the ad-hoc staff engaged during the 2019 elections.
Its National President, Obinna Okafor, made the call while addressing a press conference on Friday in Abuja, where he disclosed that the association was approached by the ad-hoc staff that worked in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of 16th February, 2019 who were not paid their stipends as stipulated.
TAPAN said that in the build-up to the 2019 general election, INEC recruited ad-hoc staff that would help in the election, adding that on 16th of February 2020, it would be exactly one year these youth play their role in the engagement for INEC yet, up and until now, INEC is yet to play its own part of the bargain in giving them their entitlement.
Okafor said that there are 119, 973 Polling Units across the country and each Polling Units was manned by one serving Corp member and three ex-corps members, stressing that on the whole, four people manned each Polling Units totalling the ad-hoc staff for the exercise to be 479,892
He explained that as a prelude towards the said elections, INEC organised a training for all the ad-hoc staff which lasted for two days and the ad-hoc staff were entitled to N8,000 to cover their transportation and logistics.
According to him, “The said sum at the end of the induction course, even-though appropriated, was never paid to them. For manning the Polling Units for the said elections, the ad-hoc staff were to be paid the sum of N15, 000. The entire ad-hoc staff mobilised to their various areas of primary assignments ready for the job, when at about 3:00 a.m on the election day, and about four hours to opening of the polls, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu came on air to call for the postponement of the elections with reasons best known to him. Till date the ad-hoc staff have not been paid.”
He said that almost 500,000 youths are involved in this case, saying it is obvious that the outcome of the protest is better imagined than experienced.
Okafor stated: “So therefore, TAPAN insist that Prof. Mahmood must resign with immediate effect and handover himself to the appropriate authorities for alleged misappropriation of taxpayers’ money, breach of trust, rape of justice, and lack of administrative mastery and finesse.”
“Prof. Mahmood, must resign with immediate effect, enough of this administrative shenanigans, incompetence, irresponsive and insensitive to the plight of the Nigerian youth without recourse to the level of unemployment and hardship in the system,” he said.
TAPAN also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to kindly intervene urgently in order to restore confidence and trust of Nigerian youths, by ensuring that these INEC ad-hoc staff are paid immediately.
Okafor stated categorically that TAPAN had done her best to hold down the INEC ad-hoc staff for so long believing that the commission would be sensible enough to do the needful, “but from our survey as an organisation we are made to understand that INEC body language is an invitation to nationwide protest that will not likely end until Prof. Mahmood steps down.”
While reacting to the allegation, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, insisted that it had paid all ad-Hoc staff enlisted for the conduct of the 2019 general election.
The commission recalled that the Commission hired over 800,000 ad-hoc staff, and made adequate provisions for them, adding that all the funds meant for their entitlements were remitted to the states.
However, the Commission admitted that it received complaints from persons claiming to be ad-hoc staff after the elections that they were not paid, stressing that these complaints were investigated.
Oyekanmi said the commission discovered among others that, some ad-hoc staff gave wrong account numbers and when their names and account numbers did not match, payment could not be effected, adding that those in this category were called, asked to give correct account numbers and were subsequently paid.
He stated: “There were those who made false claims and could not provide any evidence of engagement as ad-hoc staff or could not provide any information about the areas where they served. However, all ad-Hoc staff with genuine cases were paid after thorough investigations.
“The Commission takes the welfare of ad- Hoc staff very seriously because without them, especially the National Youth Corps members, we cannot conduct elections. That was why, during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship polls, Letters of Appointment were issued to each and every ad-hoc staff employed by the Commission for those elections, in order to avoid the kind of complaints we received after the 2019 general election.”