The independent National electoral Commission, INEC, has concluded plans to ensure that the Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections will be conducted in line with the COVID-19 guidelines.
According to the guidelines, the Commission will conduct an immediate evaluation of its key election facilities to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose, including Polling Units (PUs), Registration Area Centres (RACs) and Collation Centres.
These facilities will be reorganized to make them more optimal to health and cost considerations.
In a 17-page document signed by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Manhood Yakubu, the commission said it shall immediately embark on a review of regulations, guidelines and manuals for elections in the light of changes to the electoral process that were imminent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Director of publicity, INEC, Mr. Aliyu Bello who made this known while featuring on Kapital FM current affairs programme ” Politics Today”that the commission would ensure that Pre-Election Preparation (PEP) activities.
“These will be conducted online preferably and where face-to-face activities become necessary, the protocols for COVID-19 prevention would be followed.”
In handling and delivery of election materials, it shall reduce the number of contacts during distribution, when Non-sensitive Materials are procured, they will be delivered directly by vendors to States or purchased by States requiring the materials and packaged according to quantity required by Registration Area.
This will reduce the level and number of contacts during distribution.
According to Mr. Aliyu necessary policies and guidelines have been put in place to protect the lives of voters in the forthcoming elections in both states.
“Ballot Papers and result sheets (Sensitive Materials) shall be packaged to Registration Areas (RAs). Production of Sensitive Materials shall commence early to give adequate time for proper packaging and delivery.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to adversely affect staffing for elections. Consequently:
“The Commission will engage immediately with NYSC and INEC State Offices to evolve modalities for corps members to serve as ad hoc staff in elections during the pandemic. “
“The Commission’s State offices will commence identification of alternative sources of ad hoc staff in line with Commission policy, in case there are shortfalls”, he stated.
Also contributing to the programme, the former chairman inter party Advisory council, High Chief Peter Ameh advocated for the provision personal protective equipment for electorates to curb the spread of Cornavirus.
The guest therefore called for more awareness programmes for electorates especially at the grassroots to avoid voters apathy during the elections.