*Arik, Aero offer discounted airfare

*FG orders immediate payment of February salary to workers

By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

Following the postponement of the 2019 polls last weekend by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) will from Thursday reduce the pump price of fuel from N145.00 per litre to N140.00.

The reduction was meant to cushion the effects of financial challenges on prospective voters and simultaneously avert the possible disenfranchisement of many voters as a result of the postponement.

Making this disclosure while briefing journalists after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said IPMAN offered to discount the cost of fuel to encourage Nigerians who want to travel to their various communities to cast their votes on Saturday.

According to the minister, the offer will be valid only from Thursday, February 21, to Monday, February 25.

Mohammed also said the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the same vein, had offered to reduce transport fares within the same period to encourage voters who want to travel to cast their votes at a reduced transport fare.

In the same vein, he said Arik Airline and Aero Contractors had also offered to fly intending voters who can show their permanent voter cards to any part of the country from February 18 to March 11 at relatively reduced rates.

According to him, whereas Arik has reduced its own flight cost to N16,000, Aero Contractors on its part had reduced its own ticket rate by 50 per cent.

The minister further disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had also ordered the payment of February salary to federal civil servants from February 19, to serve as financial encouragement to voters who want to travel to various destinations to vote on Saturday.

His words: “The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), with over 50,000 members and who control almost 80 percent of our distribution network, met a couple days ago on how to cushion the effect of the postponement, announced the reduction of the price of petroleum motor spirit (PMS) from N145 per liter to N140 per litre.

“This discount reflects the alignment of IPMAN with the government and the discount is valid between the 21st of February and the 25th, this year to allow those who want to go back home to vote.

“Also, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), which has about 2 million members and who operate motor parks in all the 774 local government areas of the country, an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress, with members cutting across drivers, bus boys, motor parks operators et cetera, have offered to provide discounts to travelers using their motor parks and members who are looking to travel to their respective voting points.

“This discount is also to encourage voters who would have normally been disenfranchised as a result of INEC’s postponement. This discount is also valid between the 21st of February and the 25th February.

“Arik and Aero airlines have also thrown in their own incentives. Aero contractors have offered 50 percent discount to all travelers who present the permanent voter cards (PVCs) at the purchasing point.

“Arik will be selling their one way ticket at N16,000 to any destination across the country. This is to support Nigerians looking to travel to cast their votes. The discount is valid between the 18th of February and the 11th of March.

“On the part of the federal government also, we decided that to make it easy for those who will want to go back to vote, salary payment started yesterday (Tuesday) as opposed to the normal 25th of every month. This is just to ease the burden of people who want to go back and cast their votes.”

Mohammed also said the council threw its weight behind the threat by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday that ballot box snatchers should be ruthlessly dealt with.

“Absolutely. I mean if you want to intimidate voters to steal the mandate of the people, you should be able to face the wrath of the law,” he said.