Barely four days to the Anambra Central Senatorial election, some corps members released by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the state as ad-hoc poll staff have declined participation.
The NYSC Coordinator in the state, Mr Ebenezer Olawale had disclosed that about 4,000 corps members out of about 7,600 shortlisted and released for the election duty had reported for the training organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Some of the corps members, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, cited the inability of INEC to pay the allowances of those who participated in the November 18 governorship poll as their reason.
“We are not interested in the exercise because some of our colleagues who took part in the last exercise were still coming for their money even after they had passed out and left Anambra,” they said.
The NYSC coordinator maintained that the scheme would not force anyone not interested in the exercise, insisting that participation was not compulsory.
He however confirmed that some of the corps members complained of not being paid their allowances for the last gubernatorial election, absolving the electoral umpire of full responsibility.
“INEC said they needed 7,627 corps members and we have released as much as that for them. However, it is left for the corps members to accept.
“We are not compelling our corps members to do it. It not compulsory; it is a voluntary assignment.
“The last election, INEC promised to take care of them as much as possible, but some of them complained that they were treated badly; that could discourage them from participating in this one.
“It may not be entirely INEC responsibility because some of them did not write their names and numbers correctly, and others did not have their data well recorded. Some of them are still being treated now,” he said.
Olawale advocated that INEC should create a forum where all the affected corps members would be addressed and their fears allayed, instead of attending to them piecemeal.
He urged corps members participating in the election to remain neutral and unbiased as always and discharge their duties with all fairness to all.
On his part, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Nkwachkwu Orji said INEC had mobilised enough manpower needed for the exercise.
Collaborating the reason for the nonpayment of the allowance of the NYSC members, Orji however dismissed the notion that the corps shunned the duty call due to nonpayment of allowance of previous assignment.
He noted that those yet to receive their allowance were quite few when compared with the ones that had been paid.
“It is not true that they did not respond to our call because of nonpayment of allowance.
“Of the 23,000 ad-hoc staff engaged in the November 18 governorship election, over 20,000 had been paid and we promised to continue to address the complaints on nonpayment as they come.
“When we conducted the training, some of them were still in their villages enjoying Christmas and New Year. We have mobilised enough staff, this is just election in seven local government areas,” he added. (Daily Trust)