The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged traditional rulers in Ondo state to help promote peace and ensure the electorate complied with COVID-19 protocols during the Oct. 10 governorship election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the appeal on Thursday when he met with the traditional rulers in the state on the governorship election on Thursday in Akure.
Yakubu said that the meeting was to solicit the traditional rulers’ support to impress on their subjects the need to maintain peace and shun violence all through the process leading to the election and after.
“Basically, we seek for your support in three ways. First, to continue to appeal to political parties candidates and their supporters for peace, as you have always done in your domains.
“Secondly, to call on your people to observe the rules of personal and public safety. “This is an election conducted in the context of a global health emergency -the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important for voters to vote and go home in safely.
“Thirdly, we seek for your prayers for peace in Ondo state. We also seek for your prayers for INEC that election to be held on Saturday will be peaceful free, fair, transparent, and credible.
“Edo was a good election. We are determined that Ondo is going to be better. We did so in 2016. This commission conducted the last election in spite of the tension before the election.
“It was one of the best elections conducted by the Commission such that it remains the only governorship election in the history of Ondo state since 1999 whose outcome was not challenged in court.”
Yakubu said that while the election was taking place in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, INEC was working to ensure safety, based on advice from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. “INEC is making available face masks, face shields, mentholated spirit and cottonwood to clean the smart card readers after each voter has been accredited to vote, while also providing hand sanitiser.
“The Presidential Taskforce has also helped us with infrared thermometers to be used in each polling unit. “However, where voters, INEC officials, or security agents show symptoms, we have arranged with PTF and the Ondo State COVID-19 response team to immediately evacuate such persons to their isolation centers for treatment.
“Learning from my experience in Edo state, social distancing at the polling unit level was not properly observed. “We believe that your royal majesties will help us by adding your powerful voices to call for compliance with this important safety requirement.
“This will strengthen our message that no voter will be allowed to vote, unless he or she wears the face mask. No face mask, no voting,” Yakubu said. He assured the royal fathers that the commission was ready for the election, stressing that INEC would be neutral and professional in the conduct of the election.
“Only the voters in Ondo state will determine who becomes the next governor on Saturday, Oct. 10.” Oba Frederick Akinruntan, the Olugbo of Ugbo and Chairman, Ondo State Council of Obas, speaking earlier at the meeting, commended INEC Chairman and the commission’s performance at the Edo governorship election. Akinruntan urged INEC to do same in Ondo state in ensuring that the election was free, fair and credible.