…say we sleep on the road, floor, in buses
Serving members of the National Youth Service Corps who worked as ad hoc workers during the 2019 general elections in Ogun State, have protested against their alleged maltreatment by the Independent National Electoral Commission.The ad hoc workers, while condemning INEC for treating them in an inhumane manner, said the electoral body had not paid their food allowance, adding that some of them had yet to receive their training allowance that was due for payment five weeks ago.
When PUNCH Metro visited the INEC office in the Ipokia Local Government Area of the state around midnight on Saturday, it was observed that the ad hoc workers spread mats and wrappers on the bare floor and grasses in the open in order to catch some sleep, while some of them slept inside the buses used to convey them to their various polling units.
An ad hoc worker, Stephanie Marcus, said INEC never planned for her and her colleagues, adding that they were abandoned after the presidential and National Assembly elections were postponed.
Marcus said, “INEC never planned for us, because we were not treated like humans. Right from the day the elections were postponed, we were never shown love and care as the electoral body abandoned us.
“Even when we got to the INEC office in Ipokia, there was no adequate provision for accommodation and we had to sleep on old tables that were used in past elections. Some of us had to spread our wrappers on the grass to sleep and those who did not have wrappers slept on the bare floor.
“Some even slept on the road because everywhere was filled up; we were over 100 at the INEC office. I can never take part in a similar exercise again even if they are going to pay me more; the sacrifice is not worth it.”
Another ad hoc worker, James Omon, said INEC had a poor transportation arrangement in place, adding that some of the temporary workers, whose names were pasted, could not make it down to their polling units due to the lack of transportation.
Omon stated, “My experience has been very bad; I had to fight to get my training allowance and some of my colleagues have not been paid. I have not got any reward that is commensurate with the amount of dedication and commitment I have put into this work for INEC.
“The transport arrangement was extremely poor; we were asked to report at our local government secretariat around 8pm, but we left around 9pm and we got to Ipokia around 11pm. In fact, some corps members had no chance to go with the bus. I have a friend, who was supposed to be in my polling unit, but was later replaced with someone else because there was no chance for her to go with the bus.
“The INEC officials promised to provide a bus to pick all those who were left behind due to lack of space, but they never went back to pick them up; some used their personal money to come here. This experience is not worth the sacrifice and time, and I am not looking forward to another election, because I regret serving as an ad hoc worker for INEC.”
Twenty-six-year-old Kolapo Oladele said despite the fact that INEC had four years to plan the elections, its preparation was nothing to write home about.
The Oyo State indigene, said, “INEC is not organised; it had four years to plan the elections yet, its preparation is nothing to write home about. Despite the initial postponement of the elections, the organisation was very bad. For instance, we have written down our account numbers for payment more than four times and we have not received any payment.
“Our food and transport allowances are N4,000; our allowance as ad hoc worker for each exercise is N18,000, and they have not paid us anything. It is disheartening that INEC is so unorganised and it is telling on us, because we worked under duress and we could have been compromised, which would have been bad for a sensitive job like the elections.”
Another ad hoc worker, who identified himself simply as Akin, said he had submitted his account details but had not been paid the training fee.
When contacted, the Resident Electoral Officer, Prof Abdulganiyu Raji, said he could not comment on the issues because he was busy working on the governorship results at the collation centre in Abeokuta.
“I am busy at the collation centre; I can’t attend to you now,” he said.