The Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Festus Okoye, has reiterated that the plans to create new polling units across the country would not benefit only a certain ethnic group, region or religion.
He said INEC was still in consultative stages engaging all stakeholders on the reasons why they plan to create new polling units, noting that this was borne out on the increase of 34 million new registered voters and the static number of polling units which presently stands at 119, 973 nationwide.
Okoye stated this yesterday on an Arise News programme.
He said: The establishment of additional polling units does not confer any advantage on any section of the country or any state. The issue of assess to polling units is a nationwide problem, and that is why we want to create a nationwide consensus.
“These polling units we plan to expand will still be located within the registration areas of what we call the electoral wards. So, it doesn’t not give any advantage to any segment of the country because it is nationwide.
“What we intend to do is to make sure that persons with disabilities can go to the polling units and vote without any distraction.
“The advantage it confers on ethnic, religious groups and states is just imaginary. The advantage we want to confer is to take polling units to the people that need them and avoid overcrowding.”
Furthermore, the INEC chief said the commission would not go ahead to create these new polling units without acceptance of all stakeholders, which is why they are in continuous consultation with all the relevant stakeholders.
Okoye said: “What we are doing at the moment is to build a national consensus around the issue of the establishment of additional polling units in the country. We want to be consultative; we want to be inclusive, and that is why we are talking to all the critical stakeholders in the electoral process.”
He noted that INEC has met with the political parties, and they have endorsed some of the plan the commission has put in place.
Okoye also added that they have met with civil society groups, the media, and agency of consultation on election security, and are also meeting with the different socio-cultural groups as well as religious groups.
He added: “We are also going to meet with government agencies and departments to explain and map out our plans for the establishment of additional polling units.”
On the reasons for the establishment of new polling units, INEC chief said: “The last time polling units were created was in 1996 with a total registered voter of 50 million. In 2019, voter’s registration had risen to 84 million and the polling units still remain static at 119, 973.
“We are saying that since Section 42 of the Electoral Act has given the commission the right to establish sufficient number of polling units and allot voters to them, we want to consult Nigerians widely to build a national consensus on the need for us to establish additional polling units, take them to the people that need them, disperse this additional polling units and to avoid overcrowding at the polling units, and that is exactly what we are doing.”