The National Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday, disclosed that as of February 15, the commission had received 9,777 requests from across the country for the establishment of additional polling units.
He observed that the requests, which were 5,700 as of October, 2020, had spiralled by over 4,000 in just four months.
Mr Yakubu made the disclosure when he visited the offices of the Arewa Consultative Forum office, in Kaduna, for consultation on creating additional polling units in the country.
The INEC chairman said the purpose of the visit was to meet with the ACF to brief it of the commission’s policy of expanding access to polling units in the country, adding that the issue of inadequate polling units was a national problem.
“We have had 119,973 polling units since 1996, but the number hasn’t changed as it was projected in 1996 to accommodate 50 million registered voters.
“In 1999, the country had 84 million registered voters and the number of polling units still remained the same,” he said.
He noted that as a result, ”there was a lot of congestion and this had not given voters a pleasant voting experience on election day”.
Mr Yakubu said the commission was clear on its intention to build a national consensus in the interest of democracy, explaining that the process had begun since last week during which the commission had already met with political parties, organisations, security agencies and the media.
He added that consultation was very important in any democracy, ”and that was why the commission needed to consult, so as to get the aggregate views of Nigerians”.
He said the commission was expanding the conversation to socio-cultural associations, traditional and religious organisations, statutory bodies such as the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council and National Council of States.
He said the commission had contacted all groups across the country and ”some had already started responding via text messages”.
Responding, the Secretary General of ACF, Murtala Aliyu, who received the INEC chairman and his entourage, expressed appreciation for the visit.
He said the forum would continue to support any initiative that is aimed to improve the lives of the citizens and the country at large.
“Since 1996, the polling units have not been increased, we think it’s necessary for it to increase for the convenience of democracy,“ he said.
According to him, ”one of the stop gap measures taken was in creating some units attached to main polling units, and this had become acceptable in quite a number of places, so what was needed was to formalise such units”.
He also called on Nigerians to educate the people on the issue of expansion of the units, so as to ensure their sustainability.