The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured Nigerians that it would continue to adopt and implement measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s electoral activities.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday gave the assurance at the commission’s first virtual consultative meeting with media organisations.
Yakubu solicited media cooperation and support in disseminating required information that would help to protect the health of voters and all those involved in electoral activities.
According to him, as usual, the Commission welcomes media comments and suggestions, as critical stakeholders involved in reporting and analysing our democracy and electoral process.“As citizens, the Commission believes that your opinions and suggestions will be of immense benefit to our electoral activities.“The Commission, therefore, values your contributions to policy formulation and implementation,” he said.Yakubu said that COVID-19 pandemic had necessitated a rethink of many activities that had been taken for granted.“With regard to the conduct of elections, the world is clearly sailing through uncharted waters.“Only a few countries have conducted elections since the reported outbreak of the pandemic in December 2019.“However, health authorities have issued guidelines on protective measures against the spread of the virus and the response to any emergencies that may occur,” Yakubu said.
Pledging INEC’s continued partnership with the media on voter education, the INEC boss disclosed that an online portal had been set up for media accreditation for Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections. According to him, the Commission has always accredited media organisations to cover elections and to ensure your unimpeded access to voting locations and collation centres. “The forthcoming Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections, as well as many bye-elections across the country, will not be different.“However, in tandem with the new health reality, accreditation of media organisations for these elections will be done online through a dedicated portal,” Yakubu said.
He pledged the commission’s commitment to continue to ensure that media carried out their responsibilities without any form of hindrance. The President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, in his remarks, commended the steps taken so far by the INEC in conducting elections during the pandemic.
Isiguzo pledged the continued support of the media for successful elections. He, however, called on the commission to give the same support to the media, especially for them to carry out their responsibilities without any form of harassment by the security agencies.(NAN)