INEC seeks stakeholders support on creation of polling units
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday, said the ongoing consultation with critical stakeholders across the country is to ensure that Nigerians understand the need to create additional units ahead of future election in the country.
Yakubu who said the voters’ education for the people became necessary in order to give room for free, fair and credible future elections in Nigeria, disclosed that the commission has received over 9,000 requests for additional polling units across the country.
The INEC boss who was represented by the Director of Voter Education and Publicity of the INEC, Mr Nick Dazang, at the opening ceremony of the INEC/IFES Voter Education Manual Review/Validation and Training of Trainers Workshop for VE Staff of the INEC, held in Akure, the Ondo State capital, said the call for the creation of additional polling units is not confined to a particular section of the country.
He said the workshop was organised by the commission to review and validate the manual for voter education and train Heads of the Department of voter education and publicity of the commission in every state, who would, in turn, train their own staff, using the voter education manual.
According to him, no additional polling units created since 1996 while the nation had conducted six general elections using the same polling units, noting that the growing demand by Nigerians for additional polling units is increasing by the day.
He noted that the inadequacy of polling units was one of the problems of the Nigeria voting system, the number of polling units had not increased while the population has increased.
He noted that enhancing voters access to polling units usually increase turnout during elections, saying many developed countries expanded access to polling units with every fresh registration of voters while others do so routinely or before every general election.
He said: “The commission is intending to expand voters access to polling units. This is because the existing polling units were created in 1996, many of the voters today were born at that time and what it means is that some of them won’t have access to where they can vote now.
“Also many towns and villages have come up while some have expanded.
“So many existing polling units cannot serve all the people now, that is why on election day you see a lot of congestion at the polling units, some people would be pissed off and with that voter, apathy would occur.
“So the only way to ameliorate the problem is to create additional voting points and the problem have not been solved.
“We have started consulting the stakeholders, so far we have consulted with the leadership of political parties, CSOs, PWDLs, the media, Afenifere, ACF, Middle Belt Forum, Ohaneze among others to make them see the need for the creation of the additional polling units.”
In his remarks, the Resident Electoral Commission in Ondo State, Dr Rufus Akeju, said the commission was making concerted efforts to engage with stakeholders to key into the intention of the commission to make polling units more accessible to voters nationwide.
Akeju said: “It is believed that this task would have been completed before the commencement of the CVR (Continuous Voters Registration).
“The fact that voters in Nigeria are still culpable in various electoral offences indicate that our voter education drive is yet to achieve the desired result.”