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Edo/Ondo governorship election: No facemask, no voting, INEC declares

...FG approves N8.9 billion COVID-19 hazard allowance to Health Workers

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday announced some COVID-19 safety measures for forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections, insisting that any voter who does not wear facemask would not be allowed to vote.

This was just as the Federal Government announced the approval of N8.9 billion for COVID-19 hazard allowance to all medical health workers with a promise to give priority to the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospitals and isolation centres.

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu who made this declaration while speaking at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing said the Commission would deploy the 3000 infrared thermometers supplied by the Taskforce to Edo in addition the ones it supplied to all collation centres in State.

Yakubu stated that the INEC had developed and published a policy on code of conduct for election and electoral activities in general anchored on the guidelines by the PTF, adding that the Commission has also developed 10 point policy for voters which has been shared widely.

“The Commission identified 8 protective measures ranging from the mandatory use of facemask, hand sanitizers, use of methylated spirit and cotton wool to clean the card readers, the rules of physical distancing, the use of infrared thermometers and procedure for handling voters and officials showing COVID-19 symptoms.

“In Edo State for instance we are working with the State response Team. We were in Edo a couple of weeks ago and we had meeting with the Permanent Secretary of Health who has made contact details of their officials in Benin City and all the Local Government Areas that we can immediately contact on election day for emergency response”, Yakubu said.

He also disclosed that the Commission has published the code of conduct and rules of engagement for security personnel including COVID-19 guidelines and can be accessed on INEC Website, Police and Office of the National Security Adviser’s website.

The INEC Chairman appealed to stakeholders to support the Commission in the implementation of the policies on COVID-19, saying the policy was successfully test ran recently in a Nasarawa State House of Assembly bye-election.

Also speaking, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha emphasized that the health and survival of the nation was very important and all Nigerians should eschew any action that will diminish the gains made in the containment of the pandemic so far.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari who attended the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government meeting in Niamey, Niger Republic on Monday where the issues of COVID-19 were discussed extensively, had informed the Community on how Nigeria is tackling the pandemic in order to flatten the curve and advanced steps being taken to push a regional agenda

Mustapha said: “As part of the efforts to promote community engagement, the PTF met with the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Polio and Primary Health Care, to discuss on how we can all control community spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Royal fathers pledged their commitment and continued support as custodians of the rich history and cultures of our peoples. We are working on replicating this dialogue around the country.

Mustapha assured all Nigerians and visitors to Nigeria that the PTF is working across multi-layer stakeholder platforms to resolve the teething challenges faced by intending travellers in accessing the portal, the costs of the COVID-19 test on arrival, inability to complete payment online and consequential inability to board.

He also assured that the Federal Government is partnering with the private sector to facilitate the process of testing a week after arrival in a seamless manner driven largely by deployment of technology, freedom to pick a certified private laboratory of choice; and delivering the service at minimal cost to government.

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