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By: Oluwatosin Adesola
Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission (ODIEC) has dismissed an insinuation that it has cancelled the proposed local government election in the state, but only postponed the April 18, 2020 exercise recently due to ravaging coronavirus.
In a Press Statement by the Commissioner in charge of Media and Publicity, Barr Rotimi Olorunfemi said the rumour of total cancellation of the polls was untrue and unfounded.
Olorunfemi also noted that due to huge preparations and investment of the commission for the Council polls, it would not be aborted or cancelled.
Below is the full text of the Press Statement;
ONDO STATE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION
KM 4, OBA-ILE ROAD, AKURE, ONDO STATE
It will be recalled that the Ondo State Government, amidst the upsurge of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria and the need for the State Government to check and curtail its spread to Ondo State, banned all forms of social, religion and political activities and gatherings in the State while closing down Schools with government offices and activities partially shut-down for 14 days all geared towards crowd control and maintaining physical and social distancing.
2. The Commission, in total and full support of the measures put in place by the state government aimed at curtailing the spread of the deadly virus and in consideration of the corporate image of Ondo State and the need to protect same, against its initial plan to go ahead with the conduct of the 2020 Local Government Elections originally scheduled to hold on the 18th day of April, 2020, decided to suspend the election till the situation on the COVID-19 pandemic improves.
3. More so, most of our local and international partners and support groups, like the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES, who were supposed to retrain and train our staff and some categories of ad-hoc staff, had shut down their offices with some writing to the Commission expressing their inability to further participate in the training programmes due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
4, Since the announcement of the suspension of the election however, the Commission and the public space had been inundated with lots of misinformation, insinuations and misgivings as to the motives of the Commission and the reason for the indefinite suspension of the election.
5. The Commission wishes to make it abundantly clear that the 2020 Local Government Election in Ondo State has not been aborted nor cancelled as some mischief makers want the general public to erroneously believe.
6. The Commission wishes to reiterate that the suspension of the election and rescheduling to a date to be announced later was necessitated by the fact that some of the procedures and activities that would lead to the conduct of a very credible election properly so-called like training of ad-hoc staff, campaigns by political parties, voting and collation of results (all which will require clustering and congregation of large number of people), having been and/or will be affected by the government COVID-19 directives and policies, the date of the election will inevitably change.
7. The Commission assures of its readiness to re-kick start the process again within the shortest possible time as soon as there is an improvement in the situation in the country especially in Ondo State as we await further government directives on the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts geared at its curtailment. The Commission will at all times obey Government directives on the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic.
8. The Commission wishes to reassure members of the public that having gone far in the preparation for the elections which had seen to the procurement of some sensitive and non-sensitive materials, distribution of some non-sensitive materials to all Local Government Areas, recruitment and shortlisting of ad-hoc staff, pasting of Lists of Candidates in all the Wards, Local Government Areas and the Headquarters and the display of Voters’ Registers in all the 3009 polling units in the State as required by law.
9. With this level of preparedness, the conduct of the 2020 Local Government elections in Ondo State therefore becomes invariably inevitable but at an appropriate date to be announced by the Commission after due consultation with relevant stakeholders and political parties as agreed at a recent meeting.
Dated this 2nd day of April, 2020.
Rotimi Olorunfemi Esq.,
Commissioner, Media and Publicity.