The Federal Government has ordered the payment of this month’s salary to enable workers who may wish to travel to their states to cast their votes in the rescheduled general election to do so.
Some workers who had travelled last week to participate in the elections were frustrated by the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend the exercise by one week due to logical blunder.
The timing of the suspension which came about five hours to the beginning of the elections angered Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari who expressed disappointment. Those who travelled have so far gone back to the residential areas promising not to come back to vote.
In a bid to persuade them not to back down, social media influencers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) began mobilisation of free transportation for those who will travel to perform the civic responsibility. The mobilisation which was started by ex-presidential aide, Reno Omokri, has the hashtag #BusesForDemocracy.
Lai Mohammed, Information Minister, who announced the government decision to pay this month’s wage to workers made it known after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, Wednesday.
Mr Mohammed who said the payment had already commenced on Tuesday, is “to ease the burden off civil servants planning to travel for the elections.”
The minister added that the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), with a membership of about 50,000, “(which) controls 80 per cent of the petroleum sector distribution has agreed to cushion the effect of the postponement by reducing the price of pump price of petrol from N145 to 140 from February 21 to 25th”.
He also said the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), which has about 2 million members and operates motor parks in all the 774 local government areas across the country, has offered to provide discount to travellers using their motor parks.
“All these (are) aimed at encouraging voters who might have been disenfranchised by the postponement,” he noted.
Mr Mohammed also hinted that as part of the incentives, two airlines, Aero contractors and Arik Air, are offering discounted fares to passengers.
He said while Aero is offering a 50 per cent discount to all travellers who present their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), at point of purchase, Arik has slashed the price of their tickets to N16000 to all destinations across the country from February 18 to March 11, 2019.
Meanwhile, the minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Bello Dambazau (retd), on Wednesday night said the Federal Government has declared Friday, February 22, 2019, as a public holiday, in preparation for the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
In a statement by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah, bankers and those offering essential services across the nation were excluded from the holiday.
“The Federal Government declares Friday, February 22, 2019, as work-free day. Those providing essential duties and bankers are excluded,” the statement said.
“The work-free day is to enable citizens return to their polling units for the reschedule Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Security agencies have been directed to ensure safety of lives and property before, during and after the general election,” it added.