The Independent National Electoral Commission will on Saturday, May 30 commence engagement with stakeholders in preparation for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively.
The engagements would start with Resident Electoral Commissioners on Saturday, May 30 2020; political parties on Monday June 1 2020; civil society groups on June 2 2020; and the media on June 3 2020.
The commission also informed that it had received the official declaration of vacancies for four Senatorial Districts and read reports of the passing of a senator and four members of some State Houses of Assembly.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, explained this in a statement issued on Thursday night after its meeting, where they approved its “Policy on conducting elections in the context of COVID-19 pandemic”.
“In view of the end of the tenure of governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19, 2020, and October 10, 2020, respectively, the commission will flag off robust engagements with its critical stakeholders to present the policy document,” he stated.
According to him, the general purpose of the policy is to enable officials and staff of INEC to understand and respond adequately to the challenges of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide a guide for engagement with stakeholders as they prepare for elections.
Okoye said the commission is planning for nine bye-elections across seven states of the federation in addition to the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
They are Bayelsa Central Senatorial District; Bayelsa West Senatorial District; Imo North Senatorial District; Plateau South Senatorial District; Cross River North Senatorial District; and Nganzai State Constituency of Borno State.
Others are Bayo State Constituency of Borno State; Nasarawa Central State Constituency in Nasarawa State and Bakori State Constituency in Katsina State
The statement reads, “The clean copy of the policy document, which will be released on Monday, May 25, 2020, covers health and legal issues, election planning and operations, election day and post-election activities, voter registration, political parties, election observation, electoral security and deployment of technology.
“Conducting elections in a pandemic such as COVID-19 is yet uncharted waters. Only very few jurisdictions have any experience with this. That notwithstanding, the commission is committed to conducting all elections that are due within the extant legal framework. However, in so doing it will put a premium on public safety and mitigation of health risks from COVID-19.
“Citizens must be assured that they will be safe while participating as voters, candidates, and officials. The commission remains committed to raising public confidence in the electoral process in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic and to regularly communicate its actions and challenges to the public.
“The provisions of the policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic shall also apply to the conduct of these elections. In conclusion, the commission urges all Nigerians to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols issued by the health authorities.”