- With COVID-19 spreading across major cities and towns in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says elections will still hold
- INEC believes that the dreaded virus will not affect the conduct of elections in the country
- The electoral umpire, however, says that it will not joke with instructions from health experts
Nigeria's election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday, May 30, spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on coming elections in Nigeria.
INEC, however, maintained that though the pandemic would not truncate Nigeria’s democracy and electoral process, the body would rely on instructions passed by health authorities in this regard.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, as saying this in Abuja, the nation's capital, in his remarks at the commission’s first virtual meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
Yakubu was quoted as saying that like it did to every other national institution, the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted INEC activities.
“For instance, further engagements with the National Assembly and stakeholders on electoral reform and the conduct of some off-season elections have to be suspended because of the global health emergency.
“Happily, the PTF has issued guidelines on protective measures for the gradual restoration of normalcy nationwide.
”On that basis, 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," he said.
Yakubu added that consequently, the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10 respectively, will proceed as planned.
He noted that some political parties had notified the commission of the dates for their primaries which would lead to the nomination of their candidates for the elections.
Yakubu added that as the commission takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, the democratic and electoral processes cannot be truncated because of it.
To him, this is because health authorities had advised on measures to protect the public from the virus, including all those involved in elections.
The chief election umpire said INEC was determined to hold some bye-elections ahead of Edo and Ondo state governorship to enable it to test-run and fine-tune its modified processes in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that already, the commission had directed the RECs for the nine states where the bye-elections would hold to as this would help kickstart preparations in earnest.
He also stated that INEC was studying reports of recent elections conducted under COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Mali and South Korea, for lessons that would strengthen the processes and protect all those involved.
In addition to the two governorship elections, he said, the commission is also making preparations to conduct nine legislative bye-elections.
He explained that the Senate president recently declared four vacancies in the upper legislative chamber for Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa East, Imo North, and Plateau South seats.
In the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, the speaker had also declared vacant, the seat for Nasarawa Central State constituency.
He noted that the commission also had been informed of vacancies for the Cross River North Senatorial District, Borno’s Nganzai and Bayo Constituencies and Katsina state’s Bakori Constituency.
The INEC chairman said the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the five senatorial and four state assembly bye-elections across nine states would involve 62 local government areas, 687 Registration Areas (RAs), 9,149 Polling Units (PUs) and 6,454,950 registered voters.
Legit.ng earlier reported how Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu recently collected his nomination form as an aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of party's primaries.
It was learnt that Ize-Iyamu collected the nomination form for the governorship ticket of the ruling APC at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Wednesday, May 27.
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