…Commission relocates 749 polling units from private residents, royal palaces, Churches, Mosques and shrines
…Annouces dates for Ekiti, Osun guber polls
By Ezeocha Nzeh
Ahead of the 2023 general elections the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released an additional list of 56, 872 Polling Units which it said were converted from the existing Voting Points across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT)
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu stated while addressing the 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) at a meeting at the INEC headquarters, Wednesday in Abuja that the commission has also in its desire to continue to offer credible and transparent elections, relocated a total number of 749 Polling Units from their former locations to more safer and acceptable places.
Professor Yakubu disclosed that the relocated Polling Units were initially sighted at private residents, royal palaces, churches, mosques as well shrines, after consultation with stakeholders, adding that the Polling Units were removed from inappropriate locations to appropriate public facilities or open spaces in line with the commission’s policy to guarantee unencumbered access to Polling Units for all voters.
A breakdown of the figure according to Professors Yakubu, showed hat 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, 6 Mosques, 21 Churches and 9 Shrines. The remaining 336 Polling Units were relocated for various reasons which include distance, difficult terrain, congestion, communal conflict, new settlements and general insecurity.
This is even as he Commission has released its schedule for the 2022 off – season governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states
He stated that the Commission has approved that the Ekiti State Governorship election will hold on Saturday 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election will hold one month later on Saturday 16th July 2022, noting that he detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the two elections have been uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms.
“As you are aware, the history of creating and expanding Polling Units in Nigeria has been long and complex. Their adequacy and accessibility in terms of number and location across the country were some of the challenges that had to be addressed in the interest of credible elections. Before 2010, the Commission operated on a round figure of approximately 120,000 Polling Units. However, a census undertaken by the Commission before the 2011 General Election arrived at the precise figure of 119,973 Polling Units. The Commission also made efforts to relocate many Polling Units from inappropriate places such as private residences and properties, palaces of traditional rulers and places of worship to public buildings accessible to voters, polling agents, observers and the media during elections.
“Following several unsuccessful attempts to create additional Polling Units despite the obvious pressure from increased number of registered voters, the Commission established Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements across the States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a pragmatic response to necessity. The voting points were tied to the existing Polling Units and Voting Point Settlements. The number of registered voters in a Polling Unit and the Voting Point Settlement in the FCT, was used to determine their Voting Points, based on the upper and lower thresholds of 500 and 750 voters respectively. These were also the limits used for the 2019 General Election. The number of new Polling Units in a State is the number of Voting Points aggregated from those Polling Units having Voting Points. Furthermore, it was discovered that one Polling Unit in Lagos State had been wrongly categorized as a Voting Point and the error was corrected. With this adjustment, the actual number of approved Polling Units came to 119,974. As a result, the Commission arrived at the exact figure of 56,563 Voting Points in addition to 309 Voting Point Settlements in the FCT, making a total of 56,872 Voting Points.
“After wide ranging consultations with stakeholders and fieldwork by our officials, the 56,872 Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements were converted and added to the existing 119,974 Polling Units. Consequently, the Commission is glad to report that 25 years since the current Polling Units were created in 1996, the hard nut is finally and successfully cracked after several unsuccessful attempts. Nigeria now has 176,846 full-fledged Polling Units.
“However, after consultation with stakeholders, the Commission has successfully removed 749 Polling Units from inappropriate locations to appropriate public facilities or open spaces in line with our policy to guarantee unencumbered access to Polling Units for all voters. Of this figure, 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, 6 Mosques, 21 Churches and 9 Shrines. The remaining 336 Polling Units were relocated for various reasons which include distance, difficult terrain, congestion, communal conflict, new settlements and general insecurity.” Professor Yakubu stated
He also disclosed that advanced preparations have already made by the Commission, for four pending bye-elections in Kaduna, Jigawa and Plateau States, which he said will be the last to be conducted using a combination of Polling Units and Voting Points.
“For subsequent elections, beginning from the Anambra State Governorship election holding on 6th November 2021, there will be no Voting Points any more in Nigeria.
“Looking to the near future, the Commission is preparing to conduct the remaining off-season end of tenure elections ahead of the 2023 General Election. Already, activities listed in the timetable for the Anambra State Governorship election are being implemented. So too are those of the FCT Area Council election holding on 12th February 2022.
“In the sequence of off-season elections, the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections are holding next year. In keeping with our policy of announcing the dates of elections in advance to enable early and effective preparations by all concerned, the Commission has approved that the Ekiti State Governorship election will hold on Saturday 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election will hold one month later on Saturday 16th July 2022. The detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the two elections have been uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms. We implore political parties and aspirants to ensure rancour-free primaries and thereafter conduct peaceful electioneering campaigns.”