…INEC to Test-run, Fine-tune its Anti-COVID-19 Modified Processes at Bye-elections
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke on Saturday during its first virtual meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), observed that like every other national institution in Nigeria, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the Commission’s activities.
According to Yakubu, such activities like 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.
INEC hinged its insistence on holding the scheduled elections the guidelines already issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on protective measures for the gradual restoration of normalcy nationwide.
In line with the guidelines, 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.
In line with the electoral laws, some of the registered political parties have already notified the Commission of the dates they have set for their party primaries, ahead of the nomination of their candidates.
The Commission is also making preparations to conduct nine legislative bye-elections after vacancies have been declared by the Senate President in respect of four Senatorial Districts.
The expected senatoral elections are for Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa East, Imo North and Plateau South.
The Commission said it has information indicating that vacancies also exist 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,” Yakubu said.
The Street Reporters Newspaperreports that the INEC boss, therefore, stated that the Commission is determined to hold some of the bye-elections ahead of the two major Governorship elections to enable it ensure the test running and fine-tuning of its modified processes in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission maintained that 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 its processes and protect all those involved in the conduct of the forthcoming elections.
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