Ahead of the governorship election in Ondo State, some political parties in the state have reacted to the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to adopt online campaigns and primaries as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s Head of Information and Voter Education, had told SaharaReporters that the electoral body was concerned about the turnout and safety of voters and would ensure that activities around the election took place over the Internet.
INEC has fixed October 10, 2020 for the gubernatorial election in Ondo State.
Incumbent governor of the state, Rotimi Akeredolu, has shown interest in re-contesting for the position.
Reacting to the new directive by INEC, Alex Adeniyi, Ondo State Chairman of the African Action Congress, said the decision to adopt the online process of campaigns was a welcome development.
He said, “In fact, we in the AAC for a long time have started our online meetings and advocacy through platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter.
“So, INEC must also be ready to give adequate support even in terms of finance to the political parties because the process of going online for campaigns and every other process that leads to the election proper will attract more money.”
Also speaking, Zadok Akintoye, Director of Publicity and Media of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ondo State, said the decision of INEC to limit campaigns and conduct of the party’s primaries to online platforms was coming at a time the country ought to have outgrown the process.
He said, “For us in the PDP, we have already adopted our plans in line with the directives of INEC, however hoping that as we approach the elections, the issues compelling this directive would have been adequately resolved.”
In his own reaction, Mr Steve Otaloro, Director of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress in the state, said the electoral body’s initiative was a brilliant idea but explained that it might take time to execute.
He said, “We hope it won’t be the final decision of INEC as much as we welcome this idea and development in view of the pandemic that is currently ravaging the whole world.
“But we still believe that governorship election is a serious business that shouldn’t be taken lightly by INEC because it is important that the electorate know who want to governed them and there is need to ask those vying for the office pertinent questions.
“So, we would only enjoin INEC to take a second look at this idea because how many electorate can these political parties reach via the social or electronic media, just few persons or the influential ones.
“Moreso, if you look at the logistics that is involved, how many political parties, both the small and big ones, can afford to go on social media to campaign because this takes a lot of money and resources.”
In his view, Joseph Akinlaja, Ondo State Chairman of the Zenith Labour Party, said adopting online platforms for political campaigns ahead of the governorship election in the state might be counterproductive.
He joined those calling on the electoral body to conduct a “mock election” to ascertain how the process can be embraced by both the political parties and electorates in the state ahead of the election.
Mr James Popoola, Administrative Secretary of INEC in Ondo State, confirmed to our correspondent the electoral body’s decision to adopt the online platforms but added that the state was still waiting for directives on how to embark on the initiative ahead of the election.
A political analyst, Mr Abiola Ademujimi, said the decision to adopt online platform for political campaigns ahead of the state governorship election by INEC “would further put a test on the credibility of the commission”.
He also suggested that the commission should be prepared to inject more funds into the electoral process, noting that Nigeria was ripe to go online for its electoral processes.