By Omeiza Ajayi
As the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, resumes partially from the COVID-19 lockdown, the commission has barred staff who are above 58 years and with underlying health conditions from resumption.
The measure, which is to shield such staff from unnecessary exposure to the risk of contracting the virus, also applies to pregnant staff and nursing mothers in the electoral body.
INEC disclosed this in a statement signed by a National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
He said the commission met yesterday and deliberated on the step by step protocol for the resumption of activities and operations as well as preparations for the conduct of Edo and Ondo governorship elections and other pending senatorial and State Assembly bye elections.
At the end of the meeting, the commission resolved “to carry out comprehensive decontamination of its national headquarters, annex at Blantyre Street, the Electoral Institute and its Area 10 office housing its staff clinic.’’
Other decisions taken at the meeting were that INEC would follow the Federal Government’s guidelines on resumption protocols and procedure by providing infrared thermometers, soap and water at entrances and installing hand sanitizer dispensers at strategic points in the commission.
‘’The commission also decided to train its staff, particularly the cleaners and office assistants on cleaning protocols and strict compliance with Federal Government guidelines as well as its own specific protocols for resumption.
“To issue comprehensive guidelines for the first phase of its resumption in compliance with the directives of the Federal Government and health authorities. These guidelines will be posted on its notice boards and uploaded on the website of the Commission on Monday May 11, 2020.
“That directors and other designated Staff of the various departments will resume at the National Headquarters on Wednesday May 13, 2020, after the decontamination of the premises and provision of necessary amenities as outlined earlier in this statement.
“Only staff below 58 years of age with no serious underlying health issues will resume, while pregnant women, nursing mothers and all other staff with underlying health conditions should remain at home for the time being.
“The commission will work out modalities for the ramping up of activities in two of the states where it has governorship elections (Edo and Ondo) and will liaise with the security agencies and health authorities on resumption of work in the two states as soon as possible.
“The commission will resume engagement with political parties, civil society groups and organizations, the media and other stakeholders in relation to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
‘’The modalities for these engagements will be worked out and considered at its next meeting on May 14, 2020,” the statement added.