The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has began payment of N55,000 as entitlements to corps members (Ratechs) participating as ad-hoc staff in the election.
The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this Wednesday at the media briefing on the commission’s preparedness for the elections at the International Conference Center (ICC), Abuja.
The presidential and national assembly elections have been scheduled for February 25 while the gubernatorial and state assemblies will be holding on March 18.
Mr Yakubu, a professor, said that each corps member is expected to receive N55,000 ”as allowances” shortly.
The INEC boss’ comment comes a day after this newspaper reported how the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members decried discrepancies in election allowances paid to them after Saturday’s polls cancellation.
On Monday morning, information went viral across the different platforms used by the corps members, especially on their Community Development Service (CDS) fora, that payment of the training allowance had commenced, but with discrepancies.
Many of them had on Friday personally transported themselves to their various wards with little cash in hands, as INEC had failed to pay the N4,500 stipulated as training allowance.
The training had taken place across the nation two weeks before the earlier scheduled dates for the elections.
After complaints from corp members across Nigeria on poor welfare and remuneration, the ‘national patriots’ had created a WhatsApp group chat and planned to boycott this Saturday’s election if their demands were not met.
Shortly afterwards, information from NYSC management spread across the different NYSC group chats that payment of election training allowance of N4,500 had commenced.
Amidst discrepancies in the amounts paid to them, they also expressed disappointment over the decision of INEC to pay only those shortlisted without considering others who had spent time and resources to participate in the training.
While serving corps members serving in states like Plateau, Lagos, and the FCT received prompt payment of their fees, others in Rivers, Enugu were yet to be paid.
In Anambra and Ondo states, they complained of ‘low payment’.
Meanwhile, some corps members had been trained, shortlisted and presented to serve as Presiding Officers (POs) and Assistant Presiding Officers (APOs) for the upcoming elections.
INEC gives breakdown
Addressing the issue, INEC chairman said each corps member is entitled to N4,500 training allowance, including transport (N1,000) and refreshment (N500), for the three-day training period.
For deployment on election duty, they are entitled to transport, feeding and an honorarium of N9,000 and N4,000 making it N13,000 each.
For the presidential election, N55,000 was paid separately to each member.
Since no training will be conducted for the second election, he said that each corp member who worked as Ratechs will receive N55,000, making a total of N110,000.
“That is the Standard allowance for corps members,” he said.
He also spoke on the welfare of the ad-hoc staff
“Let me say this, the youth corps members are among the most educated, most reliable and most patriotic and most readily available election duty staff we have in Nigeria, so we don’t joke with their welfare,” he said.