The Coronavirus pandemic has reechoed the greatest concept needed to achieve growth in a country. This concept is none than ‘Unity’.
Has COVID-19 Sealed Obaseki, Akeredolu Reemergence As Governors?
Prior to the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria, the discourse has largely been about the division in the country’s political terrain. Although 2023 election is not fully in sight, the Edo and Ondo polls are as close as a person’s nose and eyes.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled the election for June and July 1st respectively. Apparently, there is a likelihood that another date would be fixed as a result of the increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country. The new date could be a difficult one to fix as 2020 already seems to be the ‘Coronavirus year’. Almost all the activities scheduled for the year has been affected by the spread of the virus.
Also, many countries across the world have predicted that the Social Distancing strategy used to prevent the spread of the virus would likely go on till the end of the year. Some health experts have advised that countries across the world should stick to social distancing for months even after COVID-19 has been curtailed. Nigeria, like many other African countries, definitely needs to follow this advice.
What this means is that the Ondo and Edo elections would be greatly influenced by the current situation. Electioneering in Nigeria is largely manual. Almost all that occurs on the day of election is what health experts have advised against to halt the spread of Coronavirus.
From the long queues of the people with very close proximity to the accreditation of voters which requires thumb printing. With the realities of today thus, the conduct of such election in this period would be almost impossible.
Even if Nigeria flattens the curve of Coronavirus before June, it would not be ideal to conduct the Ondo and Edo elections as scheduled. The electronic voting would have solved this. The Electoral Reform Bill has sought for the amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that INEC ‘may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit’. The country is however still far away from conducting election via E-voting.
The outcome of elections in Nigeria in time past have always been determined by the actions of the ruling party months or even weeks to the election. That is why the 11th hour release of workers salaries in Osun and Kogi states played huge roles in the emergence of the Governors. The Ondo and Edo elections are therefore largely going to be determined by the response of the two state governments to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The ruling parties could make or mar their chances of emergence. The response to cases, relief packages, enforcement of lockdown orders among others would certainly have an effect on the people’s choice.Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki
The APC crisis in Edo State has left the lips of many as all state governments appear to be focused on preventing the spread of the virus. The opposition parties are being careful with their criticisms of the ruling parties so as not be accused of Politicising a matter of life and death.
As at Monday April 20th, Ondo state has 3 COVID-19 cases with no death recorded. Edo State has so far recorded 15 cases. 6 have recovered and 1 death has been confirmed. Governor Godwin Obaseki has ordered a lockdown of the state and has since commenced the distribution of relief packages to indigent residents. These and many other pro-people acts could play a very important role in his reemergence.
Without doubt, COVID-19 would affect preparations for the Ondo and Edo elections, it could influence how elections would be conducted on election day and it will definitely determine the outcome of the elections.
Just as Governors Obaseki and Akeredolu have the floor to seal their victories by providing an excellent leadership in this critical period, the opposition parties have the perfect terrain to show the people what it would mean if they are being voted in. Stomach infrastructure as a strategy being used by Nigerian Politicians cannot be more needed and effective than these ‘trying’ times. Thus, the response to COVID-19 in Edo and Ondo states could seal or strip the ruling parties of the Governorship seat. No better time to show the people more of their commitment to their growth and development than now.
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