Members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, have declined to participate in the Rivers State Legislative rerun elections scheduled for Saturday, December 10, 2016.
Over the years, corps members have served as ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct voter registration and elections. The youths on their mandatory one year national assignment have caught up in election violence and many have lost their lives in the process.
With the growing level of violence and election malpractice which has been a trend in the recent elections across the country, corps members have declined to serve as INEC ad hoc staff to conduct the upcoming rerun elections in Rivers State.
A corps member who spoke to the press disclosed that corps members were not showing the usual enthusiasm to participate in the election because of the accusations and counter-accusation between the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and INEC.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi when contacted on the subject said that it was only the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers that could comment on such issues that relate to Corps members participation in election duty.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, reacting to the news said the job of corps members was voluntary and those who did not want to work with INEC on election day were free to opt out.
Ikoiwak argued that some of the corps members’ parents might have told them not to take part in the rerun election, adding that such a situation would not affect the exercise on Saturday.
He disclosed that INEC would get more ad hoc workers from other government’s agencies if there was shortage in the number of corps members needed for the job on Saturday.
Ikoiwak said, “From the beginning, the NYSC work is on a voluntary basis. We know that some of them might have been told by their parents not to be part of it (election). But if we have problem of shortage of manpower, we will complete them with workers from other government’s agencies and institutions.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi added that most parents would be inclined to discourage their children from participating in the election because of what he described as the inflammatory comments by the Rivers State Government that plans had been perfected to rig the election.