INEC Says Elections In Edo, Ondo Will Proceed As Planned Despite COVID-19
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to proceed with the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Saturday during its first virtual meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
According to Yakubu, just like every other national institution in Nigeria, “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our activities”.
He noted that for instance, further engagement with the National Assembly and stakeholders on electoral reform as well as the conduct of some off-season elections had to be suspended because of the global health emergency.
But the INEC boss said thankfully, the PTF has now issued guidelines on protective measures for the gradual restoration of normalcy nationwide. On that basis, he noted that the Commission recently released its own policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Commission is convinced that electoral activities can resume but in full compliance with the advisory issued by health authorities.
“Consequently, the end of tenure Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively will proceed as planned.
“While the Commission takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, our democracy and electoral process cannot be truncated for this reason, particularly because health authorities have advised on measures to protect the public from the virus, including all those involved in elections,” Yakubu added.
According to him, already, some of the registered political parties have notified the Commission of the dates for their party primaries leading to the nomination of their candidates for the two elections.
In addition to the two governorship elections, the Commission is also making preparations to conduct nine legislative bye-elections. Already, vacancies have been declared by the Senate President in respect of four Senatorial Districts (Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa East, Imo North and Plateau South). Similarly, the Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly has declared the seat for Nasarawa Central State Constituency vacant. Information reaching the Commission also indicates the existence of vacancies for the Cross River North Senatorial District, Nganzai and Bayo State constituencies of Borno State and Bakori State constituency of Katsina State.
“The Edo and Ondo Governorship elections, as well as the five Senatorial and four State Assembly bye-elections, are spread across nine states of the Federation involving a cumulative number of 62 Local Government Areas (LGAs); 687 Registration Areas (RAs); 9,149 Polling Units (PUs) and 6,454,950 registered voters. Put in the context of our sub-region, the number of registered voters for these off-season elections is equivalent to holding General Elections in Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde put together,” the INEC boss said.
He, therefore, stated that the Commission is determined to hold some of the bye-elections ahead of the two major Governorship elections to enable it in test running and fine-tuning its modified processes in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission says it is also studying reports of recent elections conducted under the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in places such as Mali and South Korea, for any lessons that will strengthen our processes and protect all those involved.
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