..says voting ‘ll start 8.30am
Due to the changes the COVID-19 pandemic brought to systems and ways of life, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, today engaged Journalists in Ondo State on a day workshop to abreast them of the new procedures for the conduct of the forthcoming Gubernatorial election the state.
Declaring the workshop opened at Heritage hotel Ijapo estate Akure the state capital, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, (IVEC), Mr. Festus Okoye reeled out additional policies and innovations, introduced by the Commission to improve transparency of the electoral processes, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, it is of utmost importance for Journalists to be abreast of such new measures in order to disseminate them to the electorate, hence, the reason for the training.
Some of the policies listed by him included strict adherence to the existing COVID-19 Protocols, two-tier queing system at the polling unit to ensure crowd control, COVID-19 test for INEC staff before and after deploying for elections, and commencement of voting at 8.30am to 2.30pm.
His words: “The global pandemic has adversely affected the world in various degrees and dimensions leaving every country with the unavoidable task of digging deep to reconstruct its system. Based on this, the Commission moved fast in a proactive manner and designed policies and programmes that ensured the continuation of electoral activities even in the midst of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19”.
According to him, as part of the efforts of INEC to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process and eliminate human interference in the process, new innovative tools were introduced in addition to the existing electronic voting machine.
He listed them to include, Candidates Nomination Portal, Election Observers Nomination Portal, Media Accreditation Portal, and Result Viewing Portal.
The INEC Commissioner, therefore, sought the cooperation of the participants in strengthening the electoral process, saying “the media need to interrogate some of the false narratives and propaganda emanating from politicians as we strive to build an electoral process devoid of the weaknesses of the past”.
In his opening remarks, the INEC Director of Voter Education, Mr. Nick Dazang described the media as critical stakeholders in Electoral process, noting that the Commission got feedback of its activities through them, reason they need to understand the process.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in the state, Mr. Tona Aderoboye thanked INEC for organising such a refreshing training for Journalists, noting that the state was blessed with Professional and versatile Journalists who were conscious of their social responsibility to the public.
He, therefore appealed to the Commission for timely release of information needed to aid Journalists’ reportage on the forthcoming election, and to ensure a level playing ground for a successful and peaceful poll.