By Ibrahim Sheriff
The 2023 elections in Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Borno, Niger, Imo, Anambra and Enugu states are under threat.
Some Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff members said they would not turn up for election duties if their security is not guaranteed.
Some of the commission’s officials, who spoke with The Nation, vowed not to participate in the 2023 polls in those ‘troubled’ states if ongoing bloody attacks do not abate.
According to the commission, 42 of its facilities have been attacked in 14 states across the federation.
INEC, in its Strategic Plan 2022-2026 recently unveiled by its Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, noted that the current security threats to the electoral process were more than those of the 2019 general elections.
A senior INEC official, who did not want to be named, said despite assurances from security agencies and the leadership of the Commission, it will be hard to convince electoral officials to conduct elections where their safety is not guaranteed.
The source said: “From the feelers we are getting, it is most unlikely that electoral officials will be willing to come out for the election. There is serious fear.
“Although the commission and security agencies are working very hard to bring the situation under control and reassure all stakeholders, a lot need to be done to change the position of the scared staff.
“The apprehension is very high in Kaduna, Katsina, Yobe, Borno, Niger, Imo, Anambra and Enugu states and except the security situation improves in those states, it may be difficult for the election to hold.”
In Imo State, a staff member who also did not want to be named said she cannot risk her life.
She recalled the killing of a colleague, Anthony Nwokorie, and the abduction of others in an attack at the Ihitte Uboma Council Area of Imo State during a voter registration exercise.
She said: “I don’t think anyone can persuade me to come out on election day and risk my life.
“I don’t think any job is worth taking the risk to be slaughtered like a goat by those gunmen.
“We all saw what happened at the Voter Registration Centre. I don’t want to experience such horror because of an election.”
In Delta State, a junior staff told The Nation that most of the workers were scared about participating in the 2023 elections over the fear of attacks.
“We pray that everything normalises before the election, otherwise many staff members will boycott it because it will be better to be sacked than to die trying to protect your job,” the source said.
The Commission warned against “scaremongering and speculative deductions aimed at instilling fear in the minds of Nigerians relating to the availability of ad-hoc staff for the conduct of the 2023 general election”.
It urged Nigerians to come together and degrade the security threat to the 2023 polls in the overall interest of the nation and its democracy.