The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has hinted that it might be constrained to adjust the timetable and schedule of activities of the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections due to the crippling challenges coronavirus pandemic posed on the country.
The commission also admitted that with the lockdown of most of the states in Nigeria and the closure of boundaries, the pandemic had impacted and will definitely continue to impact on its preparations and activities for the conduct of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
Responding to the inquiry from newsmen in Abuja, National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, informed the political parties, civil society groups, and organizations that most of the nominations and accreditations shall be done online given the challenges of the deadly virus.
While insisting that post-COVID-19 has forced the commission and every other sector to do things differently, he said that INEC will rely on the constitutional empowerment to adjust the electoral timetable and schedule of activities for the two governorship elections within the constitutionally permissible window.
“On February 6, 2020, INEC released an adjustable timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections. By the said timetable, the Edo governorship election will take place on September 19, 2020, and that of Ondo State on October 10, 2020.
“As of February 6, 2020, when the Commission released the timetable for both elections, the impact, magnitude, and far-reaching implications of the COVID-19 pandemic had not really manifested. By section 178(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and section 25(7) and (8 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) an election to the office of governor of a State shall be held on a date not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office.
“Constitutionally, the tenure of the governor of Edo State expires on November 11, 2020, and that of Ondo State expires on February 23, 2021. By necessary constitutional implication, the earliest date for election into the office of governor of Edo shall be June 15, 2020, and the latest date for the election shall be October 13, 2020. In the same vein, the earliest date for the election into the office of governor, Ondo shall be September 27, 2020, and the latest date shall be January 25, 2021.