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April poll: Elections workers demand for insurance coverage

By on April 6, 2011

Ahead of the postponed general elections in Nigeria, poll workers have charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be more concerned about their wellbeing as the required for insurance coverage most especially in the oil-rich and restive part of the country.

This, according to the workers, would serve as an assurance that the nation was not just exposing them to dangers, knowing fully well that such areas are volatile and anything could happen while the election is ongoing.

This became a front burner issue while the election chief wanted to discuss ethics with his staffers ahead of pivotal April polls.

“If we inform the police, most of the time, they come to the area and ask you for money and for other assistance to do their job,” said Michael Osayande, an election official in Niger State, during the meeting.

As a measure to guide against any unforeseen circumstance during the election, INEC staff asked for life insurance and were  worried about ethnic and religious violence during the meeting with the INEC Chairman Professor Attairu Jega.

Problems of insecurity were discussed as a tough task Professor Jega would  need to tackle, as they claimed that his appeal alone would not be enough to manage polls in a nation where elections had been marred by rigging, intimidation and violence since it became a democractic nation more than a decade ago.

“The election commission spent more than $230 million to purchase laptop computers, digital cameras and fingerprint scanners to register voters across the country in roughly 120,000 locations, why can’t the commission make adequate provision for the security of its workers?

“A typical example was during the last registration exercise where some election workers were harassed by the people of a certain community. We often receive blames for INEC’s shortcomings, ” Osayande said.

“Election officials fear ethnic and religious tensions spilling over into the polls. At least 50 people have died already in election-related violence. During the January registration drive, a mob killed an election worker and set his body ablaze in the troubled central Nigerian city of Jos.

Jega has said that the commission would offer life insurance, which has drawn applause from human rights watch groups.

Source : Tribune