By Chinwe Ogbuka, Assistant Director Publicity
2nd June 2020
Worried by the frequency of bye-elections in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed a desire to engage with the National Assembly and other stakeholders including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to chart a new way forward.
Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who expressed the concern today at the virtual meeting with CSOs against the background of 10 pending bye-elections, in addition to the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections.
According to him, the frequency of bye-elections in Nigeria requires a rethink.
He informed the audience that the Commission would conduct several elections in the coming months, including the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections scheduled for 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively.
He said: “The first of the 14 activities itemized in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Edo election has been carried out. The notice for the Election was published yesterday in our Edo office and simultaneously on our website and social media platforms for the first time.
“The second activity, which is the commencement of party primaries for the nomination of candidates by political parties, begins today and ends on 27th June 2020. A number of political parties have already notified the Commission of the dates for their primaries. This marks the formal commencement of the process for the September 19th Governorship election in Edo State.”
Prof. Yakubu informed the CSOs that since health authorities had issued guidelines on how public institutions in Nigeria can protect their workforce and safely serve the public interest, “we consider it imperative to proceed with electoral activities in Nigeria.”
The Chairman said drawing from the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF), anchored on the advisory from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and global health authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Commission has released a policy document on how electoral activities can proceed while mitigating the risk to all involved in the process.
Prof. Yakubu urged the CSOs to consider the policy as a living document. He noted that the Commission organised the meeting to see how the CSOs and the Commission could strengthen it in a manner that will further engender public confidence, encourage greater citizens’ participation in the electoral process and, most importantly, guarantee the safety and security of voters in the process of exercising their democratic rights to vote.
He also called on the participants to make contributions on the 10 items listed in the policy document and the consequential amendments to the 2019 Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of Elections.
The INEC Chairman assured the CSOs that their comments would be taken into consideration in reviewing the policy as well as the Regulations where necessary. He said: “In addition, we also welcome your input into the implementation of the policy before, during and after the election.”
He added: “As usual, civil society organisations will be accredited to observe the elections. However, in the spirit of deepening the use of technology in our electoral process and also in line with the new reality of conducting electoral activities under the COVID-19 pandemic, accreditation of observers will be done online.”
He disclosed that a dedicated portal has been created by the Commission for that purpose.