INEC Breaks 25-Year Old Jinx…Successfully Creates Additional Polling Units

INEC Breaks 25-Year Old Jinx…Successfully Creates Additional Polling Units

..Nigeria now has 178,846 polling units ..749 polling units relocated from inappropriate places like palaces and places of worship. ..All is now set for Continuous Voter Registration exercise on June 28 To widen the electoral space and ensure that more voters are able to exercise their right, the Independent National Electoral Commission has broken a

..Nigeria now has 178,846 polling units

..749 polling units relocated from inappropriate places like palaces and places of worship.

..All is now set for Continuous Voter Registration exercise on June 28

To widen the electoral space and ensure that more voters are able to exercise their right, the Independent National Electoral Commission has broken a 25-year old jinx by successfully creating additional 56,872 voting units thereby growing the number from 119,973 polling units (created since 1996) to 176,846 full-fledged polling units.

Several attempts to achieve this feat in the interceding years were frustrated as they got enmeshed in murky political waters. Different partisan interpretations dogged such attempts and were eventually jettisoned or abandoned. But, according to INEC Chairman, this achievement became possible because of intensive country-wide consultations with all stakeholders. It appears to have been well received so far.

L-R: National Commissioners, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, National Commissioners Festus Okoye, Ahmed Mua’zu and Mohammed Haruna, at the unveiling of 56,872 Polling Units in Abuja on Wednesday 16th June 2021. PHOTO: BASIL NWAGUGUThe significant event, took place during the Commission’s meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), was the culmination of a series of intensive countrywide consultations with stakeholders, followed by the conclusion of technical activities that began in January this year, under the Expansion of Voter Access to Polling Units initiative.

Addressing the media on this new milestone, Chairman INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu declared “twenty-five years since the current Polling Units were created in 1996, the hard nut is finally successfully cracked after several unsuccessful attempts.”

The conversion of Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements to PUs is expected to facilitate the Commission’s plan to roll out the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise which will commence on 28th June. Professor Yakubu observed that the history of creating and expanding PUs in Nigeria had been long and complex, stating the challenges as issues relating to adequacy, accessibility, number and location of PUs across the country were among the challenges that had to be tackled.

He continued: “Before 2010, the Commission operated on a round figure of approximately 120,000 Polling Units. However, a census undertaken by the Commission before the 2011 General Election arrived at the precise figure of 119,973 Polling Units. The Commission also made efforts to relocate many Polling Units from inappropriate places such as private residences and properties, palaces of traditional rulers and places of worship to public buildings accessible to voters, polling agents, observers and the media during elections.

“Following several unsuccessful attempts to create additional Polling Units despite the obvious pressure from an increased number of registered voters, the Commission established Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements across the States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a pragmatic response to necessity. The voting points were tied to the existing Polling Units and Voting Point Settlements. The number of registered voters in a Polling Unit and the Voting Point Settlement in the FCT was used to determine their Voting Points, based on the upper and lower thresholds of 500 and 750 voters, respectively. These were also the limits used for the 2019 General Election.

“The number of new Polling Units in a State is the number of Voting Points aggregated from those Polling Units having Voting Points. Furthermore, it was discovered that one Polling Unit in Lagos State had been wrongly categorized as a Voting Point, and the error was corrected. With this adjustment, the actual number of approved Polling Units came to 119,974. As a result, the Commission arrived at the exact figure of 56,563 Voting Points in addition to 309 Voting Point Settlements in the FCT, making a total of 56,872 Voting Points.”

Prof Yakubu noted that after wide-ranging consultations with stakeholders and fieldwork by INEC officials, the 56,872 Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements were converted and added to the existing 119,974 Polling Units.

He further explained that: “Consequently, the Commission is glad to report that 25 years since the current Polling Units were created in 1996, the hard nut is finally and successfully cracked after several unsuccessful attempts. Nigeria now has 176,846 full-fledged Polling Units.”

He also revealed that after consultation with stakeholders, the Commission successfully removed 749 PUs from inappropriate locations to appropriate public facilities or open spaces in line with the Commission’s policy to guarantee unencumbered access to PUs for all voters.

He gave the breakdown: “Of this figure, 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, 6 Mosques, 21 Churches and 9 Shrines. The remaining 336 Polling Units were relocated for various reasons which include distance, difficult terrain, congestion, communal conflict, new settlements and general insecurity.”

In view of the Commission’s advanced preparations already made, Prof. Yakubu explained, four pending bye-elections in Kaduna, Jigawa and Plateau States will be the last to be conducted using a combination of PUs and VPs.

He was full of gratitude to all who made the achievement possible “On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission, I would like to express our profound appreciation to the leadership of political parties, civil society organizations, the media, security agencies, religious leaders, socio-cultural associations, the labour unions, professional bodies, persons with disabilities, women and youth groups, students’ unions, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the State Governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) and the National Assembly. We also acknowledge the invaluable support of the development partners for facilitating some of the stakeholder engagements and the publication of advocacy documents.”

Ayo Aluko-Olokun
ADMINISTRATOR
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