8th June 2020.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Ondo State, Dr Rufus Akeju has assured the people of the state that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is putting all necessary measures in place to ensure a free, fair and credible governorship election fixed for 10th October 2020.
Shedding more light on the Commission’s preparations for the election during a Crest 87.7 FM live programme aired on 3rd June in Akure, the state capital, Akeju said the Commission has released a new Policy on the Conduct of Elections in the Context of the COVID – 19 Pandemic over which it engaged major stakeholders including Political Parties, Civil Society Organisations and the Media in a series of meetings last week.
According to him, there will be strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines and protocols for the governorship election while possession of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and facial mask will becompulsory for every voter wishing to exercise his or her franchise on election day.
The REC disclosed that all uncollected PVCs are in safe custody of the Commission and that the general public have always been duly informed on the need to collect them. He advised the citizens of the state to refrain from engaging in double registration because “it is unlawful and attracts serious penalty” upon conviction. He also advised political parties not to indulge voters in vote buying and selling, describing it is an aberration to the democratic process. He affirmed: “It (vote buying) constitutes an electoral offence which is punishable under the electoral law.”
Akeju, a former Ambassador, also advised the political parties planning to field candidates in the Ondo governorship election to be mindful of the laid down rules and regulations as well as the Commission’s guidelines in carrying out their activities.
In another development, the REC has also re-affirmed the robust measures being put in place by INEC to mitigate the new challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure a seamlessgovernorship election in October.
Akeju, who spoke during a Federal Radio Corporation of Nigerian (FRCN) live programme in Akure on 4th June, also stated that the Commission will continue to explore the use of technology in future interactions with stakeholders, while a combination of online as well as face-to-face engagements will be adopted during recruitment, training, stakeholders’ meetings and voter education activities in preparations for the 10th October governorship election in the state.
Akeju said 1,822,346 voters were registered in the state, out of which 1,478,460 collected their PVCs,leaving a total of 372,888 PVCs uncollected.
He observed that the Commission was forced to suspend the resumption of the the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to prevent the health risks occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. He affirmedthat the Commission is not only committed to conducting all outstanding elections credibly and within the extant legal framework, it will also put a high premium on public safety at all times.
The REC appealed to the political parties to play the game according to the rules, while encouragingthe voters to exercise their civic rights by coming out en masse to vote on 10th October.