By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that its insistence to go ahead with the forthcoming Edo and Ondo states governorship elections were to avoid a constitutional crisis in the country, saying all efforts must be geared towards preventing postponement of the election.
It explained that the decision to continue with the year’s calendar was also part of the commission’s efforts toward spearheading the needed innovation in the country’s electoral system despite the effect of the global pandemic.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, noted that the commission won’t be deterred by challenges posed by the viral infections, adding that the situation presents the right opportunity for the electoral umpire to prove its ingenuity.
Okoye, who revealed this during a virtual meeting with media organizations, said the plan to continue with the election was to avoid a possible constitutional crisis that could affect the nation’s democracy and the electoral process.
He added that the electoral umpire had concluded its safety guidelines which will be adhered to during the exercise to prevent the spread of coronavirus and support the federal government’s effort in gaining total control against the virus in Nigeria.
“Throwing in the towel in our constitutional circumstances may do violence to the Constitution and wittingly or unwittingly throw the country into an avoidable constitutional crisis.
“The Commission is therefore determined to proceed with the two end of tenure Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States and the ten Senatorial and State Assembly elections with cautious optimistic bearing in mind that the health and safety of the people will be crucial determinants of the success or otherwise of the elections.
“We are mindful of the fact that we are at war with an unseen enemy. We are aware of the fact that some of our compatriots have lost their lives on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are aware that so many people are in isolation and quarantine centers. We are aware that some of our people are isolated and quarantined at home. This existential threat has therefore caused major disruption in public life which has led to a rethink of the way we administer elections and the processes connected therewith.
“Sometimes, unexpected situations, events, and circumstances throw countries and nations off balance and present them with new situations and challenges that seem insurmountable. In such circumstances and situations, some countries and nations may buckle, throw in the towel in defeat, and are completely overwhelmed.
“Sometimes, such situations throw up new players and spur creativity and innovation that accelerates development. Our nation Nigeria is faced with and in the valley of this dilemma. Giving up is not an option and buckling on account of challenges is also not an option. Daring and courageously facing the future is the way to go and the Commission is ready and will be in the vanguard of this new direction,” he said.