The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has scheduled a meeting with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, over the 2019 election.
The meeting is against the backdrop of the danger the ongoing strike by ASUU would pose to the conduct of the 2019 general election.
INEC had raised the alarm that the strike would have a negative effect on the conduct of the election.
That, the electoral body said, was in view of the fact that lecturers as well as students were largely used as ad-hoc staff for the conduct of general elections in the country.
It said with the lecturers on strike, the modalities for a good conduct of the election would be frustrated.
But speaking on Thursday on the efforts to ensure that the strike does not affect the election, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said a meeting had been scheduled with ASUU over the matter.
He said the same would apply to other tertiary institutions whose lecturers were on strike.
Okoye stated too that INEC believed that the strike would have been called off before the election.
His words: “The chairman and national commissioners of INEC will on January 4, 2019 hold a consultative meeting with the leadership of ASUU. The meeting will focus principally on the issue of the role and involvement of their members in the 2019 general elections.
“The meeting will also explore the possibility of ensuring that the students would be on campus during the elections. The commission is confident that there will be a breakthrough during the meeting. The commission is not involved in the negotiation between ASUU and the Federal Government and may not stray into that area.
“The involvement of the commission is limited to harvesting the rich academic resources in the various federal tertiary institutions for the 2019 elections. The commission has relied on and will continue to rely on staff and students of federal tertiary institutions for its ad hoc staff requirements.
“Elections and conduct require some level of intellectual acumen. It is not an all-comers affair. The lecturers and students are clustered in an institution and they can be reached in cases of electoral malfeasance and election petitions. They have a better understanding of the electoral process.
“Some of the vice-chancellors and lecturers have experience as some of them have acted as returning officers and collation officers before. Some of the students of federal tertiary institutions in Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Edo and other places where the commission conducted off-season elections already have a store of knowledge and experience and only need refresher courses on new and creative innovations introduced by the commission.
“Furthermore, the corps members are fresh from institutions of higher learning and are serving in communities, local governments and states other than their own. They are not involved in the ‘local or domestic issues’ of the various states and may not be easily swayed or influenced. Most of them have been patriotic and some paid the ultimate price in serving their nation.”