The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Friday, May 15, has announced that all campaigns, party primaries, accreditation of journalists ahead of the September 19 and October 10 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States will done online to reflect the realities accompanying the Coronavirus pandemic.
Festus Okoye, Head of Information and Voter Education at the commission, said that even though the dates of the election cannot be changed because of its constitutional provision, measures will be taken by INEC to ensure that all guidelines set by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control is adhered to during the election period.
He said, “We have two elections coming up this year that is the one in Edo slated for September 19, 2020 and the one in Ondo which has been fixed for October 10, 2020.
“These two elections are end of tenure elections and they are governed by Section 178 (1) of the constitution.
“We recognise that the Nigerian people have a right to vote and elect their representatives. We also recognise that they have the right to remain alive in a healthy environment. So what we will do is ensure we obey the dictates of the constitution and also protect the health of the voters and staff who will conduct the elections and every other person who is involved in the election.”
Okoye said because INEC was concerned about the turnout and safety of voters, it will issue an advisory, which will ensure that activities around the election took place virtually.
He said, “We are concerned about the issue of social and physical distancing and we will be liaising with security agencies and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control on how to manage the issue. We will also make sure that as we move towards the election, we will provide an advisory to ensure that we abide by all the protocols that have been reeled out by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“We are concerned about the pandemic but life must go on, elections must go on and we have to find ways and means of living with the pandemic since a cure has not been found yet.
“Nigeria has changed and Nigeria will change, the previous way of doing things has changed, so, when political parties are now campaigning will no longer be there. It is social media that would be ruling the airwaves; it is the traditional media that would be used for campaign.
“We will issue an advisory for political parties in terms of their party primary election because they have to also conform to the protocols and guidelines issued by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control in perms of crowd control so that the health of people are not endangered. The way we do things must change; we will do most of our things online.
“In terms of accrediting journalist for the elections, it will be done online and even accreditation for domestic observers, party nominations will also be done online.”