By George Samuel, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has directed its offices in Ondo and Edo States to reopen immediately to prepare for the impending governorship elections in the two states.
The directive was contained in the guidelines it issued yesterday for the reopening of its offices nationwide, saying the working hours will now be from 8 am to 2 pm even as it advised members of staff to respect strictly the curfew hours from 8 pm to 6 am.
The commission added that workdays would be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, weekly, based on the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The commission said all heads of offices -national commissioners, resident electoral commissioners, directors, and heads of departments/units – should create a rotational roster of duty to limit staff that come to work on a given day to enable maintenance of social distancing within the offices.
These are the high points of the guidelines released by the commission after an over six-week break to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
According to the guidelines, the number of personnel working per shift at the commission’s main gate and the entrances of all the commissions’ offices should be reduced subject to consultation with the service providers.
INEC said the essential duty staff would continue to work as earlier approved by the commission, adding that only the staff that have cars are allowed to resume work.
The commission said that staff resident in distant places and who would have to commute by public transport should stay at home or work from home, while those that travel out of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) should remain at their destinations until the lifting of the ban on interstate travel.
The commission said that the workspace distancing of at least two metres should be adopted within offices, on the premises and meeting rooms while there should be no loitering on the premises of the commission by staff and visitors.
The guidelines warned that under no circumstances should visitors or contractors be allowed into the commission except on authorised invitation, while visitors’ books must be maintained at each entry point and all floors, with contact details of all visitors and wearing of identification cards and tags strictly enforced.
The guidelines also prohibited congregational prayers in the mosque and chapel for the time being.
INEC directed that the use of face masks is compulsory throughout the offices of the commission, for all staff, visitors and contractors.
The commission explained that it would provide hand sanitisers at all entrances, exits and offices of the commission, while staff are also encouraged to have their personal hand sanitisers.
According to the commission, office clerks will be given guidelines on handling/ decontamination of mails and files.
Also, all offices of the commission will be decontaminated before resumption and periodically to ensure environmental safety.
The guidelines also stated that the staff of the commission’s facility managers and INEC cleaners would be trained on continuous disinfection/decontamination procedures.
It added that the use of canteen and other places of gathering (cooperative society meetings) are also prohibited for the time being, while driving into the commission should be limited to staff and other government officials/ VIP visitors who may have been invited by the commission.
The commission suspended the staff bus service for the time being to ensure social distancing until other safety measures are put in place.
INEC restated that all staff above age 58 with underlying medical conditions – hypertension, diabetes, asthma, renal and hepatic diseases-should work from home and other staff with underlying medical conditions should also work from home.