By Izunna Okafor, Awka
Ad-hoc staff of the the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Anambra State, who worked during the 2023 general elections have lamented non-payment of their allowances by the electoral body.
This is coming barely two months months after the much-talked-about election that gulped a whooping sum of N305 billion earmarked, budgeted and released for its preparation and conduct, which also covers the cost of engaging the ad-hoc staff.
It would be recalled that the presidential/senatorial elections held on February 25, while governorship/state house of assembly elections held on March 18 this year.
Prior to the polls, the Commission recruited over 1.4 million ad-hoc staff, to complement and assist its workforce to conduct a free and fair election. It also mapped out a certain amount to be paid as allowance to the recruits.
However, while few of the temporary staff who worked in Anambra State have been partially paid; many others, especially the Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs), have not received a dime from INEC for their services in the two elections, including the re-run and supplementary elections that held in different parts of the state.
Worried about the unfortunate situation, one of the affected SPOs in the state who spoke with this reporter under the condition of anonymity, said they never expected that INEC would still owe them till this moment, considering all the stress, risk, and discomfort they encountered in the course of doing their job.
According to him, the allowance for the presidential election is yet to be paid to the SPOs in the State, likewise the allowance for the State Assembly poll.
He said the worst of it all is that they don’t even know how much they are expecting from INEC as payment for their jobs, as they were not told the exact amount to be paid by the Commission.
On her own part, another affected ad-hoc staff in the state, who also pleaded anonymity, appealed to the state Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, to prevail on the INEC officials in the state to pay them their money.
The SPOs unanimously threatened to stage a peaceful protest in the state, or report the INEC official to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) if their allowances were not paid anytime soon.
They highlighted some of the steps, consultations and efforts they had made to facilitate the immediate payment of their money, as the top INEC officials in the state refused to give them listening ears, let alone showing concern for their plights or or ameliorating them.
All the efforts made by this reporter to contact the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Anambra State, Dr. Elizabeth Agwu, and the Public Relations Officer of the Commission in the state, Barr. Kingsley Agwu, proved abortive, as none of them picked their calls nor replied to the text messages sent to their phones, as at the time of this publication.