By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) Monday said that it volunteered free support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in planning and management of supplies and transport of electoral materials needed to conduct the rescheduled 2019 general election, but reportedly had its offer turned down by the electoral umpire.
Reacting to the decision of INEC to reschedule the elections, which should have started with the presidential and parliamentary polls last Saturday, the NSE in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Adekunle Mokuolu, said the reasons INEC gave for its decision would not have arisen if it had adopted standard logistics management ethics which it claimed, was the specialty of engineers.
The NSE also claimed the development was shameful and showed that election planning in Nigeria often do not take into account the contributions of engineers.
“Rescheduling of elections is fast becoming a recurrent element in the recent account of Nigeria’s democratic trajectory. On February 7, 2015, citing an advisory from the security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the chairmanship of Prof. Attahiru Jega, rescheduled the presidential and National Assembly elections by two weeks.
“Again, on Saturday, February 16, 2019, just hours to the commencement of the polls, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu of INEC announced the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections. Assuming that the reasons of failure of logistics and operational plans adduced by the INEC chairman are genuine, it is the view of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) that the rescheduling of elections is sad, avoidable, embarrassing and has occasioned an enormous waste of financial resources and monumental depletion of our national economy,” the statement said.
According to NSE, “From calculations by the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria has lost approximately $1.5 billion for grounding its economy for one whole day.
“On December 27, 2018, I wrote a letter, on behalf of the Council of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, to the chairman of INEC, titled ‘Offer of institutional support for the 2019 general elections’.
“In that letter, Nigerian engineers threw their professional expertise at the feet of INEC, offering to give technical advice and render other ancillary services for free, using our vast branch network across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
“In our view, such collaborations, coming from a non-partisan and non-governmental professional organisation like NSE, would have sufficed to eliminate any incidences of logistics and operational plans failure. Logistics infrastructure can only be delivered by engineering. Unfortunately, that letter was never acknowledged.
“Engineering is a global body of knowledge which many nations of the world have utilised to their advantages to achieve advancement in the standard of life and ease of governance. A nation that continues to neglect its domestic capabilities leaves itself open to all manners of interference such as the ones in the guise of expatriate advice from foreign election monitors.”
It admonished INEC and government to take advantage of the expertise of Nigerian engineers, and other indigenous professionals in the governance of Nigeria, to among others, avoid the kind of embarrassment and wastages that were witnessed with the recent polls postponement.