20th August, 2020
By Jethro Ibileke
Ahead of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has warned all stakeholders to see the conduct of the elections as a national project that must be executed in strict compliance with all the safety protocols.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, gave the warning on Thursday in Benin, while delivering the keynote address at a one-day workshop for journalists on election processes and procedures.
While admitting that the Edo and Ondo elections are being conducted in difficult circumstances, Okoye noted that there is no alternative to the peaceful conduct of these elections as the alternative will leave the people of the two states with a constitutional logjam that may be difficult to resolve.
“Political parties and all the critical stakeholders in the electoral process must see the conduct of these elections as a national project that must be executed in strict compliance with all the safety protocols.
“There is no alternative to the peaceful conduct of these elections as the alternative will leave the people of the two states with a constitutional logjam that may be difficult to resolve.
“Political parties must eschew violence. Political parties and their candidates must eschew the use of intemperate, inflammatory and base language designed to inflame passions or incite violence.
“On our part, we are determined and resolved to proceed with the conduct of the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections and all the outstanding bye-elections.
“In doing so, the Commission will not compromise the safety and welfare of its staff, ad-hoc staff as well as the voters. We will work closely with the security agencies to arrest threats and degrade acts of violence,” Okoye said.
He therefore urged media practitioners to be alive to their responsibility of holding public institutions and individuals accountable for their actions.
“The media must continue to name and shame those that dwarf the prestige and integrity of our country and bring the electoral process to disrepute,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Johnson Alalibo, noted that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the narrative on the processes and procedures of conducting the election.
“As we are all aware the September 19 governorship election is going to be the first election to be conducted under the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Therefore it has become imperative for journalists to be conversant with a new development with the electoral process resulting from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In his remarks, the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Sir Roland Osakue, urged INEC to be apolitical in the election.
Osakue who was represented by the Secretary of the Council, Titus Akhigbe, said this becomes imperative on view of signs of violence being exhibited by the politicians.