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Edo/Ondo Guber: COVID-19 may provoke voter apathy, says INEC

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(Middle) Obaseki at the carnival-like march termed the Umbrella March. Photo; TWITTER/GOVERNOROBASEKI

Ahead the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern that the Coronavirus pandemic might lead to voter apathy in the forthcoming poll. 

National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, spoke on Friday at a workshop on the commission’s communication policy, held virtually. 

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Okoye said the electoral body might find it difficult getting voters to focus on electoral matters, due to uncertainty and fears occasioned by the pandemic, noting that the nation is at a time the dominant issues in global lexicon relates to a virus and protocols relating to managing it. 

He said: “It is difficult communicating internally and externally, when individuals and groups are facing existential challenges occasioned by a pandemic. It is difficult getting individuals, groups and organisations to focus on the conduct and management of elections in a period of fear, anxiety or worse.

“It is difficult getting people to focus on elections and electoral matters, when there is looming danger that they may be out of job or already out of work or are in Internally Displaced Persons Camps or in a period of uncertainty. Communicating what people may see as non-essential service in a period of a pandemic or uncertainty requires a new form of capacity and skill. It requires new thinking and new methodologies and strategy.”

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Okoye reiterated INEC’s commitment to deepening the use of technology in the electoral process. 

This, he said, formed the basis for the introduction of INEC party nomination portal; election observer accreditation portal and media accreditation portal. 

He added that transparency in the result transmission process led to the development and deployment of INEC result-viewing portal, wherein the commission uploads Forms EC8A for public viewing. 

“We at the Commission will continue to deepen our knowledge of global trends in election management and communication. We will continue to enhance our knowledge of electoral issues and processes. We urge the media, civil society groups and relevant stakeholders to join in deepening the use of technology in the electoral process,” he said. 

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