Senate backs INEC over creation of new polling units

President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has assured the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the 9th Assembly will support the commission for the creation of new polling units across the country.

The assurance of the support of the legislature was conveyed to the Commission at the Presentation on the State of Voter Access to Polling Units In Nigeria organised by the Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters, by the President of the Senate.

He said the support will come whether through budgeting or legislation to facilitate the work of INEC and it will be without any hesitation.

According to Lawan, “Democracy is about participation by the people and the most important to provide the list convenient and safe and secured environment for voters.

“We have supported INEC whether through budgeting or other engagements that would facilitate the work of INEC and this one is a request that we should not hesitate to grant so you have our support.

“I want to assure Nigerians that the national assembly is ready and willing to support INEC to do better in creating more polling units,” Lawan stated.

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had asked the National Assembly to assist its plan to convert polling points into polling units to smoothen the associates’ challenges experienced by voters while seeking to access to polling units.

Mahmood who addressed the joint committee of the National Assembly on INEC and Electoral matters during a consultative meeting to convert polling points into polling units maintained that “The Commission has in the last three electoral cycles made use of Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements as interim solutions for the declining voter access to Polling Units.

“These are well known by stakeholders and accepted by voters.

“As the Commission prepares to recommence the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), as required by the Electoral Act, it is important to conclude the issue of expanding voter access to Polling Units in order to assign voters to new Polling Units during the CVR.”

Yakubu said the only fulfilment to voters right was to ensure access to a place to vote in an election otherwise such right is being violated and speaks to the credibility of the whole election.

He said the process should not be politicised so that voters would have a better experience in future elections.

Mahmood said it should also be able to ensure a safer voter experience on Election-Day, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “Over politicisation underscored by unfounded conspiracy theories has been a major obstacle to expanding voter access to polling units.

“This has caused unnecessary delays in establishing and relocating polling units prior to major elections.

“Stakeholders have a central role to play in addressing the challenge, especially by committing to
supporting the Commission’s efforts to finding solutions and assisting to depoliticise the issue.

“Experiences from other jurisdictions across the world show that continuously expanding voter access to polling units is a good practice.

“These experiences also show that the problem of declining access to polling units is not unique to Nigeria.

“In most countries, however, expanding voter access to polling units is essentially the administrative responsibility of agencies charged with the function by law,” he stated.

On voters apathy, the Chairman of the Commission blamed politicians for voter apathy as he said the performance of politician because “if you promise voters that “I will do ABCD for you and nothing is done, four years down the line you come back to make the same promise, they will ask, why should I go and vote, what for, my life has not changed; it has been the same.

“Voter education is not actually responsible for voter apathy, instead it is the function of voter mobilisation. And, it is not the responsibility of the Commission to engage in voters mobilisation. Those who need votes should mobilise the voters he pointed out.”

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Senate backs INEC over creation of new polling units

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Senate backs INEC over creation of new polling units

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