Elections amidst COVID-19 pandemic, a big challenge ― INEC
•To unveil policy document on Monday
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said conduct of elections amidst the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic was a serious challenge facing the electoral umpire.
Festus Okoye, its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee made the confession in a statement on Thursday night.
The Commission is expected to conduct governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states in September and October, respectively while there are outstanding nine (9) bye-elections across seven States of the Federation.
But Okoye maintained that despite the apprehension instigated by the pandemic, the Commission was committed to conducting all elections that were due within the extant legal framework.
Okoye, however, assured Nigerians that in the conduct of its statutory responsibility, the premium would be accorded the safety of citizens who would participate 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 statement revealed that a document, “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic, ” will be unveiled to the public on Monday.
He said: “The general purpose of the Policy is to enable officials and staff of the Commission 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.”
According to him, the documents “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. ”
As part of its preparations for the Edo and Ondo states elections, Okoye further revealed that INEC would soon flag off robust engagements with its critical stakeholders to present the Policy Document, beginning with a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Saturday, 30th May 2020 and an interactive session with the leadership of political parties on Monday, 1st June 2020.
The Commission urged all Nigerians to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols issued by the health authorities.