BY MARY KUYE
In its contribution to fight coronavirus in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC has released 100 pickup vans as requested by the Presidential Task Force on combating COVID-19 to assist in tracing persons that have come in contact with Coronavirus cases.
Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee said: “Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Commission has been in touch with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on combatingCOVID-19 on areas it can assist the effort to tackle what is clearly a national emergency that requires the support of all national institutions.
“The PTF has requested for about 100 pickup vans from the Commission’s fleet to be deployed for contact tracing, surveillance/laboratory and infection prevention/control in six States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the first instance.
“The States are Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Kano, Rivers and FCT”.
He added that “in addition, the Commission has also placed all our State offices nationwide on standby in case the PTF requests for additional support to combat the pandemic.
“Furthermore, the Commission is working with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Telecommunication service providers to assist in raising public awareness of the pandemic by sending bulk messages (SMS) to registered voters similar to what we do for voter mobilisation.
“Short messages were adopted from the flyers/leaflets issued by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). This follows the suspension of the Do Not Disturb (DND) policy on sending unsolicited messages to telephone subscribers by NCC.
“Similarly, the Commission is in discussion with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development on the possibility of using our electoral registration areas (wards) and polling units nationwide as locations for the distribution of palliative and other relief materials to citizens. The 8,809 wards and 119,973 polling units are located in various communities in the country and citizens are familiar with their locations.
“The Commission wishes to assure the public that it will join hands with all agencies and stakeholders to combat COVID-19 in Nigeria. We urge all (save for those on essential duties) to stay at home, maintain recommended social distancing and remain safe by obeying all guidelines issued by the relevant authorities”.