By Hamilton Nwosa ( Head, The New Diplomat’s Business and Data tracking desk)
The chairman of Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu has revealed that the commission would be studying case studies of elections conducted in foreign jurisdictions amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The INEC chairman cited the cases of Mali and South Korea where elections were recently held during this global pandemic as examples the commission was examining to figure out what lessons could be learnt from them.
According to Yakubu, this move is to help the electoral body firmly come to grasp with the modalities and protocols involved in conducting elections during the current global pandemic as INEC prepares towards conducting the forthcoming governorship polls in Edo and Ondo states, respectively.
He said: “The commission is determined to hold some of the bye-elections ahead of the two major governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states to enable us test run and fine-tune our modified processes in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the same time, we are also studying reports of recent elections conducted under the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in places such as Mali and South Korea, for any lessons that will strengthen our processes and protect all those involved.”
Prof Yakubu who spoke on Saturday during a strategy and preparatory meeting with the various Resident Electoral Commissioners(RECs) said this approach became necessary given the fact that this is the first time INEC would be conducting elections under COVID-19, and it was therefore logical to study and learn lessons from jurisdictions where elections have been conducted amidst COVID-19.
Recall that the commission had earlier this week unveiled its guidelines, rules and protocols for conducting the forthcoming elections in designated places and states. According to the electoral body the guidelines would align with the directives and protocols set forth by the National Centre for Disease Control(NCDC).
According to Yakubu, there are currently over six million eligible registered voters for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections respectively as well as in other states where senatorial and state house of assembly elections are scheduled to be conducted.
Recall that INEC has scheduled both the Edo and Ondo governorship elections for September 19 and October 10, respectively. In conducting the elections under COVID-19 in South Korea, experts believe that certain protocols including social distancing, safety, and health modalities were put in place by the organizers.