We’re interested in electoral process, not candidate, party, says EU
‘NYSC members’ participation in polls is optional’
THE European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission in Nigeria yesterday said it was not interested in who becomes the next President of the country, but in the process of the elections.
This was coming as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) said participation of corps members in the conduct of the elections is optional, as the scheme did not make it mandatory.
The EU Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts, who stated this when she led the EU team on a visit to the Director-General of the NYSC in Abuja, said that EU observers were on ground in all the states of the federation to monitor the forthcoming general elections, adding that a preliminary report on the elections would be released two days after the polls.
She said: “We are neutral, impartial, interested only in the process considering the international treaties that Nigeria had signed and ratified.
“We have teams spread across. We are interested in how the election results will be compiled and accepted by Nigerians.
“We will produce public statement two days after the elections and later produce final report and findings on the elections. We are here to find out your challenges because we know the role of NYSC in election coverage.”
Responding, the NYSC Director-General, Brig.-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, said that all issues raised, which include the safety of corps members by the public, had been adequately taken care of by the government.
Olawumi, who said the scheme did not make it compulsory for any serving corps member to participate in the conduct of election as an ad-hoc member of staff with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said: “In all these elections, it is not compulsory, they are not forced to partake in elections. They are not forced. At the end of online registration, we have about 168,000 who registered out of about 248,000 corps members that participate in the service yearly.
“In my interaction with them, a lot of them are enthusiastic about taking part in the election. If the election is credible, they will be happy that they were part of the exercise.
“One thing we always emphasise is that they must maintain neutrality and must not be in any political party. They don’t partake in political rallies. It’s against our rules.
“Ignorance of the law will not be an excuse; that is why we give them manual on election. We learnt a lot of lessons from the 2011 election and have therefore decided to improve on it.
“We have done certain things to mitigate what happened in 2011. We’ve put a lot of mechanisms in place to guarantee their safety.”
Olawumi insisted that safety of all corps members was not negotiable, saying that aside meeting with traditional leaders, they had constituted a committee on their security.
According to him: “We have been meeting with INEC with a view to ensuring security of corps members. We have set up election monitoring security committee and we’ve opened a situation room headed by a deputy director.
“We’ve also been engaging traditional and community leaders that they (corps members) don’t belong to any party.”
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