Why We Can’t Shift Edo, Ondo Gov Polls – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) has explained that it went ahead with all scheduled elections despite the COVID-19 pandemic to stave off possible constitutional crisis that could derail the country’s democracy and electoral process.
The Commission said it is determined to lead the process of innovation and creativity in the electoral process rather than throw in the towel and postpone all elections to an indeterminate period.
National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in his remarks during a virtual meeting between the Commission and Media Organisations, noted that “throwing in the towel in our constitutional circumstances may do violence to the Constitution and wittingly or unwittingly throw the country into avoidable constitutional crisis”.
He added further that “the Commission is therefore determined to proceed with the two end of tenure Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States and the ten Senatorial and State Assembly elections with cautious optimistic bearing in mind that the health and safety of the people will be crucial determinants of the success or otherwise of the elections.
“We are mindful of the fact that we are at war with an “unseen enemy. We are aware of the fact that some of our compatriots have lost their lives on account of COVID-19 pandemic. We are aware that so many people are in isolation and quarantine centres. We are aware that some of our people are isolated and quarantined at home. This existential threat has therefore caused major disruption in public life which has led to a rethink of the way we administer elections and the processes connected therewith”.
According to Okoye, “sometimes, unexpected situations, events and circumstances throw countries and nations off balance and present them with new situations and challenges that seems insurmountable. In such circumstances and situations, some countries and nations may buckle, throw in the towel in defeat and are completely overwhelmed.
“Sometimes, such situations throw up new players and spur creativity and innovation that accelerates development. Our nation Nigeria is faced with and in the valley of this dilemma. Giving up is not an option and buckling on account of challenges is also not an option. Daring and courageously facing the future is the way to go and the Commission is ready and will be in the vanguard of this new direction.
“Our aim is to ensure inclusivity and consultation and use this period to connect, reach and interact with Stakeholders effectively while maintaining and complying with the protocols and guidelines issued by the relevant health authorities”.
He noted further that “the challenge before the Commission and indeed the media is to design and launch creative and innovative ways of communicating with the Nigerian people in ways and means that accords with their sensitivities, allay their fears, reassures them about the future and reengage more concretely them with the electoral process.
“If we are communicating and Nigerians are not paying attentions, it means our strategies are faulty. If we are communicating and the narrative remains the same, it means that we are yet to break down the dominant perception and the dominant narrative of deficit trust in our democracy and elections.
“The Commission is determined to deploy appropriate technology and mechanisms of reaching the Nigerian people in these challenging times. Hence, our voter education and publicity initiatives will be geared towards; Boosting public confidence and reengaging the Nigerian people in the electoral process. Assuring the citizenry that they will be safe while participating as voters, officials, observers or providing security, etc”.
INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in his speech, assured that the Commission will continue to adopt and implement appropriate measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our electoral activities.
He therefore solicited the cooperation and support of the Media in “disseminating required information that will help to protect the health of voters and all those involved in electoral activities.”
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