By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Registered political parties under the auspices of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) have expressed support for the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) new policy on conducting elections in the country in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A statement by the group signed by the National Chairman, African Action Congress (AAC), Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, described the new measure outlined recently by INEC for conducting elections in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic as being “realistic, exhaustive, health-sensitive and in tune with reality of the times”.
In the statement, the parties said: “Coronavirus scourge has altered the nation’s political horizon with its health, social and financial implications, making the use of electronic voting imperative. The Council commends the electoral umpire for agreeing to use electoral voting machine in 2021 polls on a pilot scale.”
According to Nzenwa, IPAC has been in the vanguard for the use of electronic voting system in conducting elections in Nigeria which will assure free, fair, credible, transparent, acceptable and peaceful polls.
He said that IPAC welcomed INEC’s plan to experiment on e-voting in 2021 in major elections.
He said: “lt is a giant step forward in the nation’s political process.
“The exigency of the moment has made it imperative for INEC to receive political parties’ nomination forms for Edo and Ondo governorship elections online in compliance with various established coronavirus preventive protocols such as social distancing.
“Being a new political framework, the need for effective voter education by INEC, political parties, civil society organizations and media cannot be overemphasized as the electorate will be required to wear masks and adhere to personal hygiene and social distancing.
“It will certainly affect Nigeria’s vibrant political campaigns. Political parties and their candidates will face the reality and adopt Covid-19-friendly approach to electoral campaigns.”
Nzenwa further said that since election is the beauty of democracy and power resides in the people, it is necessary for governors of Edo and Ondo States to relax restriction on movement to enable the people to carry out their civic responsibilities and elect governors of their choice.
“IPAC urges political parties and their candidates to imbibe issue-based campaigns and eschew divisive politics that has impeded the nation’s political process.
“It is time to build a strong, virile, durable and sustainable democratic nation. We are all in it together,” Nzenwa said.