The All Progressives Congress has set Monday, June 22, and Monday, July 20 as dates for its primary election to choose a candidate for the governorship election in Edo and Ondo states respectively.
- The party controls both states but has been torn apart by internal wrangling and warring factions.
- Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his counterpart in Ondo, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, are expected to challenge other aspirants in the party for the ticket to represent the APC.
- INEC has insisted that it will proceed with both elections slated for September 19 [Edo State] and October 10, 2020 [Ondo State] in spite of public health concerns amid the continued spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
What they are saying: INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Public Information, Festus Okoye, has announced that the electoral body will, tomorrow, 21st of May, release a ‘policy framework’ to guide the conduct of the elections, engagement with stakeholders, and future electoral activities.
- The electoral body’s argument for the conduct of the election amid a pandemic is that failure to do so could strip it of its constitutional rights to set dates for elections in future.
What is at stake: Edo and Ondo states have a total number of 139 confirmed COVID-19 cases, per the latest figures from the NCDC. Going by Nigeria’s historical problem with organizing rancor-free elections, and the stakes involved in both elections, it is easy to see how things could potentially go south.
- Ideally, INEC could learn from the successful example of South Korea that recently conducted parliamentary elections under strict hygiene and social distancing measures that helped prevent the spread of COVID-19. But some would argue that Nigeria is not South Korea.
- Electronic voting is another idea some states have explored but a raft of problems including poor infrastructure, limited budget, and legality represent major barriers.
- By law, new elections must be held not earlier than 150 days or later than 30 days to the expiration of the tenure of the last holder of the office.
What to watch: The promised policy framework of INEC and whether or not it would be accepted by all parties involved, including medical authorities who ought to have an input.
Also, if the APC would be able to satisfy its members in both states with adopted mode of the primary election.