Yiaga Africa organized a webinar on April 7 2020 to explore how best Nigeria could respond to the COVID-19 pandemic vis-à-vis conduct of elections. The webinar attracted participants from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), academia, development partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). It provided an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on elections timetable and election management and avert constitutional crisis that may arise as a result of the limitations imposed by the spread of the pandemic. In the course of the deliberations, participants identified a wide range of issues for consideration that can help in deciding whether to postpone elections or not.
At the end of the webinar, participants mandated YIAGA Africa to constitute two major working groups to undertake critical analyses of the impacts of COVID-19 on elections, and another to provide recommendations for short and long terms actions to mitigate potential constitutional crises prompted by the continuation of pandemic.
With the recent announcement by INEC that it has no plan of postponing the upcoming off-circle elections in Edo and Ondo state to avert any constitutional crisis, it became pertinent to host a follow-up webinar on how the pandemic could impact on the elections. The webinar is also aimed to follow up with the resolutions from the Webinar held on April 7th where two working groups were constituted to undertake critical analysis of COVID-19 and its implications on elections.
One group was to examine the constitutional provisions for national emergencies and highlight the legal implication of the COVID-19 regulations on the constitutional timeline for the conduct of elections while the second working group was to review the timeline for the conduct of Edo and Ondo elections and provide technical advice to INEC. Both groups will provide feedback on their findings and share proposed recommendations during the virtual meeting. The meeting will also review recent events in the polity especially the gradual easing of the lockdown coupled with the possibility of conducting off-cycle elections later this year.