As part of its moves to promote free and controlled access to its polling units ahead of future elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that it would soon commence consultations with different major stakeholders on the challenges of expanding voter access to polling units’
The Commission in a statement issued Tuesday by its National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said it would in the next few weeks, “plan to engage with diverse stakeholders including political parties, civil society organizations, religious leaders, traditional institutions, labour unions, socio-cultural organizations, various arms of the federal government, as well as state governments”, adding that among the burning issues to be addressed at these consultations are the challenges that declining access to Polling Units pose to democracy and election management in Nigeria.
INEC in the statement which was issued after its meeting noted that it has finalized arrangements for the upcoming engagements with stakeholders on expanding voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria.
“For several weeks, the Commission has been preparing for these national engagements to address the inadequacies of Polling Units in Nigeria and the challenges they pose to election management. Some of these challenges include overcrowding, numerous unserved populations and poor locations, which are potentially disenfranchising millions of Nigerians, and also pose health risks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a national problem that calls for national consensus.
“For several years the Commission has tried to address this fundamental challenge to democratic consolidation and election administration with minimal success. This has been mainly due to inadequate engagement between the Commission and stakeholders.
“Consequently, the Commission has had to resort to interim measures such as creating Voting Points at Polling Units nationwide and establishing Voting Point Settlements in the Federal Capital Territory. These engagements will afford an opportunity for the Commission to consult with stakeholders in order to build a genuine national consensus to address the problem of declining voter access to Polling Units.”
The Commission appealed to stakeholders in the electoral process and Nigerians at large to work with us to address this major issue.