Sunday, 1st October 2023

Elections: Avoid panic travelling, ACF, Ohanaeze, Northern Elders tell Nigerians

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Ernest Nzor (Abuja) and Benjamin Alade (Lagos)
22 February 2023   |   4:03 am
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Northern Elders Forum (NEF), yesterday, urged Nigerians not to flee to their states of origin over security concerns.


• NYSC deploys 200,000 corps members, sets up distress call centre
• NRC suspends train operations till Feb 28

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Northern Elders Forum (NEF), yesterday, urged Nigerians not to flee to their states of origin over security concerns.

The admonition comes as the nation counts down to general elections slated for February 25 and March 11, 2023.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the groups’ meeting, jointly signed by Alhaji Murtala Aliyu (Secretary, ACF), Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (Ahaejiagamba Ndigbo, for Ohanaeze Ndigbo) and Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed (Director Advocacy and Engagement, NEF).

The meeting also noted that all Nigerians have a role to play in ensuring credible elections and a peaceful transition to the next administration.

The statement reads: “All voters must be availed the opportunities to freely exercise their political choices. Nigerians living in all parts of the country must be encouraged to stay put, under secure circumstances, to vote and exercise their franchise.

“Government at all levels, security agencies and host communities should give every Nigerian, wherever they live and work, assurances of their safety and the protection of their rights during elections.

“We urge our fellow citizens who may be planning to travel to areas of origin to resist every temptation to do so. Let them make their staying back a clear demonstration of real willingness to protect their rights to live wherever they are and participate in all election activities like all other Nigerians.

“Nigerians should be aware that these are defining elections, wherein leaders should be elected on the basis of competence and the capacity to drive our economic development, social justice and political unity forward.

“We hold it a sacred principle that no Nigerian should be penalised for holding an opinion or exercising his free choice within the confines of the law. We believe that it is possible to conduct these elections without violence or rupture to our deep roots in all parts of Nigeria. Indeed, we believe no one will benefit from the subversion of credible elections or a peaceful atmosphere under which they will hold.”

THIS came as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) said it has deployed over 200,000 members as adhoc staff for the elections.

Also, the Corps launched a ‘Distress Call Centre’, as part of efforts to ensure the safety of members during the poll.

Director General, Brigadier General Yushau Dogara Ahmed, disclosed in Abuja, yesterday, during a press conference on preparedness of the Corps for the polls.

He disclosed that INEC officials have already trained members who would participate in the elections. “Proper training has been given to them. Guidelines were given to them. They have been well informed and they are ready to give their best,” he explained.

He said NYSC has put in place measures to ensure the Corps members’ security during and after the elections. He said part of the effort was meeting with heads of security agencies.

“Since I took over, I have met with the Inspector General of Police and the Department of State Services. I have met with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). I have equally met with INEC, and every hand is on deck to ensure the Corps members are secure.

“We were assured by INEC that they will carry these members to their respective places of assignment and bring them back safely,” he said.

The NYSC boss also warned the members against receiving any form of gratification from politicians during the election.

IN a related development, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the suspension of train services nationwide in view of the elections.

In a statement, yesterday, Deputy Director (Public Relations), Yakub Mahmood, said the temporary suspension, from Saturday, February 25 to Monday, February 27, 2023, would enable Nigerians to exercise their civic responsibilities.

The suspension affects: Abuja – Kaduna Train Service (AKTS), Warri – Itakpe Train Service (WITS), Lagos – Ibadan Train Service (LITS) and Iddo Lagos – Ijoko Interstate Mass Transit Services.

He added that normal train services will resume Tuesday, February 28, 2023.