The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to deploy 100 pick-up vans for Covid-19 contact tracing, surveillance/laboratory and infection prevention/control in six States of the Federation, including, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Kano, Rivers and FCT, in the first instance.
According to INEC, this followed the request by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 which the Commission had been in touch with on areas it can assist in the effort to tackle what is clearly a national emergency that requires the support of all national institutions.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in a statement released Friday night said the Commission had also placed all its State offices nationwide on standby in case the PTF requested additional support to combat the pandemic.
Okoye disclosed that INEC was discussing with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development on the possibility of using its electoral registration areas (wards) and polling units nationwide as locations for the distribution of palliative and other relief materials to citizens.
He said the 8,809 wards and 119,973 polling units are located in various communities in the country and citizens are familiar with their locations.
“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.
“The Commission wishes to assure the public that it will join hands with all agencies and stakeholders to combat COVID-19 in Nigeria.
It urged 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.