NCDC recommends virtual campaigns for Edo, Ondo polls

Lagos, NIGERIA: A man drops his voters card in a ballot box at a polling station in Lagos 14 April 2007. Nigerians voted 14 April in elections for governors and legislators in 36 states, with security forces on high alert and violence reported in two southern oil towns. Major parties see the polls as an indicator of their chances in the April 21 election of a successor to President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is ending his second four-year term. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has recommended that politicians should consider virtual campaigns where applicable for the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States as well as other pending elections.

The recommendation is contained in a document titled, ‘Guidelines for conducting elections during the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria’, released on Monday.

While the Independent National Electoral Commission has fixed the governorship election in Edo State for September 19, the election in Ondo State is scheduled for October 10.

There are states where local government elections or supplementary elections will be holding to fill vacancies in state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly.

“Where applicable, virtual campaigns and rallies are encouraged. This can be done using televised or radio campaigns, and mobile vans,” the document read.

The NCDC urged politicians to adhere to codes of conduct developed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, including public health and social measures expected at rallies and election locations, through relevant communication channels – posters, TV and radio jingles.

In the event that there must be rallies, the centre recommended that all pre-emptive measures, including the compulsory use of face masks, should be adopted.

It recommended the utilisation of one-third of the actual capacity of venues.

The centre said the only way to conduct elections without putting any one at risk of contracting COVID-19 was to comply with all protective measures at all times.

The document read in part, “Avoid utilising campaign venue to full capacity; we recommend one-third of venue capacity (minimum of two metres should be observed among people at the gathering).

“If essential, multiple rallies should be conducted with appropriate numbers of people to enable adequate physical distancing in each gathering per time.

“Hand hygiene facilities including soap and water/ hand sanitisers should be made available for people before gaining access to campaign ground.”

On the part of INEC, the centre, among other requests, asked the commission to engage all political parties to agree on the size of campaign and duration of same in line with the guideline of the NCDC on mass gathering.

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