INEC to increase polling units across Nigeria
Jack Acheme, Kano
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the electoral umpire in Nigeria is set to increase the numbers of Polling units across the country to deepen democratic enfranchisement in the country.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting held in Kano state North-Western Nigeria.
He said the increment/expansion became necessary because of increasing population, the emergence of new housing estates, ease of accessibility by pregnant and disable persons and decongestion of polling units which will reduce contractable diseases.
He said the last such exercise was carried out 25 years ago, hence the urgent need for the creation of new polling units.
The INEC boss said in the current exercise, all interim voting points would be converted to Polling units, giving voters the choice to remain where they are or migrate to new ones close to them.
“In 1996, across Nigeria, there were 119,973 polling units when there were 50 million registered voters. Now that there are 87 million registered voters in the country, there is need to expand and establish new polling units across the country.
“The Commission has in the last three electoral cycles made use of Voting Points and Voting Points Settlements as interim solutions for declaring voter access to Polling Units. These are well known by the stakeholders and accepted by voters. Consequently, converting them to full-fledged Polling Units is a cost-effective and timely way of addressing the problem,” Professor Yakubu said.
He said INEC has developed guidelines for the exercise with a threshold of seven hundred and fifty (750) voters as maximum and five hundred (500) voters as a minimum in a polling unit.
The electoral umpire boss said a new form of electronically-driven registration and revalidation of voter’s card exercise will soon commence, whereby people of voting age can remotely start registration using their Android phones before approaching a centre for their pictures to be captured.
He said the exercise will provide an opportunity for those with discrepancies in their data with INEC to also correct them.
“There is going to be a registration exercise that will commence soon to which I call on those who are due for registration to ensure that they register,” Professor Yakubu added.
The INEC Boss was represented at the occasion by Barrister Festus Okoye, a commissioner with the agency.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner Kano State, Prof. Riskuwa Shehu explained that the location of Polling Units will be in accordance with some considerations that include among others, public places preferably centrally located and accessible, non-sectarian locations such as town/community halls, health centres, court premises public recreational centres, and spacious facilities to adequately sit election officials, political party agents, election observers and voters, if necessary.
He reminded politicians that campaigning for political offices is still under a ban and warned that violation of the ban can attract legal action.
“Ban on political campaigning is still on, caution your supporters because there is legal provision for violating the law. We appeal to you and the media to understand the legal framework for media houses to find a way of curtailing it,” Riskuwa said.