The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has decried the lingering strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, describing it as a threat to its preparations for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Speaking at a one-day workshop on Gender Sensitive Reporting of Elections on Thursday in Abuja, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye said over 70 per cent of the ad hoc staff requirement for the elections was drawn from students of federal tertiary institutions. “The lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, will no doubt have serious impact on the preparations for the conduct of the 2019 elections. “It is therefore important that students of federal tertiary institutions should and must be in school at least a month before the February 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections. They are one critical resource and their absence will have adverse effects on the ad hoc staff requirement of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC,” he stated. In his opening remarks, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Outreach and Partnership Committee, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, urged the media to function as a transparency watchdog, a campaign platform, a public educator and an open forum for debates and discussions, saying INEC was concerned about gender discrimination in political news reportage. Earlier, INEC’s Deputy Director, Gender, Mrs Blessing Obidegwu said the purpose of the workshop was to ensure gender mainstreaming in political reportage, lamenting that while the political space keeps shutting out women, the media should endeavor to open up itself to women in politics.