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Punch Newspaper Headline (8th February,2019)

INEC elections

  • INEC creates 57,023 more voting points for elections

Information obtained by The PUNCH showed that the voting points would be carved out of the existing 119, 973 polling units nationwide.

This comes barely a month after the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said more voting units would not be created.

Yakubu had said last month, “On polling units, the commission wishes to assure the media that there is no change in the number of polling units and voting points used for the 2015 general elections and the 2016 Area Council elections in the FCT.

“Any insinuation that new polling units, voting points or voting points are being created by the commission is utterly baseless and should be disregarded.”

However, it was learnt that following a high-powered meeting by INEC national commissioners and other relevant stakeholders, it was decided that 57, 023 new voting points had to be created.

It was learnt that the move had become necessary because the number of registered voters had risen by 15 million since 2015 and as thus the old arrangement was not feasible.

The additional voting points would also ensure that voting is done in record time in order to allow for quick collation of results which will be expected to take longer due to the high number of political parties which has since risen to 91.

The 2015 Presidential election had 14 candidates but 2019 has a record 72.

The PUNCH had reported that the collation and announcement of results which would require the announcement of each political party one after the other, might take as long as five days and INEC was doing everything possible to ease the process.

A national commissioner at INEC said, “We have established 57,023 across the country because the number of voters has increased. We are creating more voting points and not more polling units.”

The commissioner explained that a voting point is created when a polling unit has more than 500 registered voters.

He said, “A voting point is derived from a polling unit. When a polling unit has more than 500 registered voters, a voting point can be carved out of it and set aside but it is not completely independent. Ideally, a polling unit should not have more than 750 voters.”

When asked why INEC changed its mind, the commissioner said, “Once a polling unit has more than 750 voters, it is best to devolve a new voting point out of it because if the entire 750 turn up for election, they will not be able to complete accreditation and voting by 2pm.

“In 2015, there were 69 million voters but now we have 84 million. So, that accounts for the increase in the number of voting points.

“As I said, these voting points are like a sub-polling unit. For instance, if Gaskiya Primary School is a polling unit but has 1, 200 registered voters, we can create a voting point out of that unit, to make it two to allow for a better and faster voting process. So, at the end, all the results from that unit would be collated as one.”

When contacted, the INEC National Commissioner for Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Festus Okoye, confirmed the creation of more voting points.

He said it had become necessary due to the large number of voters.

Okoye said, “We have created more because the number of voters has risen to 84 million. INEC regulation 3c states that voting points are created out of polling units based on multiples of 500 and a maximum of 750 registered voters or as may otherwise be determined by the commission.

“We cannot use the 2015 template because the total number of registered voters was 69 million but now it is 84 million. If we use the same template, it means we have not learnt any lessons at all.”

INEC meets, CSOs, NGOs, women ahead elections

Meanwhile, INEC on Thursday met with the Civil Society Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisation and various women groups from across the South-West states.

The zonal meeting, which held at the Premier Hotel, Ibadan, was organised by the Centre for Enterprise Development and Action Research on Gender and Participation in the general elections.

According to INEC, the main objective of the meeting the women groups was to increase participants’ awareness on women’s low representation in elective positions.

In his opening remarks, the Oyo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mutiu Agboke, said the commission recognised the need to orientate the women to take part in political decisions that affect their lives.

Agboke, who was represented by the Administrative Secretary, Mr David Asemo, recounted that the commission had within the last one year embarked on a series of sensitisation initiatives for stakeholders particularly the women so as to reduce incidents of void votes during elections.

He said, “INEC has been going to various markets, groups and societies to talk to women to let them know the roles they have to play in election and its importance.

“We know that women are the grass-root mobilisers and those who take care of the home front at the same time, so we need them to help spread the message on why people must shun electoral violence, vote-selling and buying, among others.

“Women are the first victims of any crisis in the society either as wives or mothers. And we know that they are the most important tools to help sensitise the people to the implication of electoral crisis, hence the need for this meeting.”

The Gender Desk Officer, INEC, Mrs Catherine Ogwu, while speaking on the objectives of the meeting, said it was to facilitate good outing for women at the polls.