By Naomi Sharang
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said that the planned establishment of additional polling units across the country would not be treated as constituency projects, an authoritative source in the commission said.
The source, who said this while speaking to news men, in Abuja, on Thursday, noted that the establishment of the units would be based on the need to serve Nigerians and not particular interests.
He said that the creation of the polling units had become necessary because the available ones were inadequate.
“For instance in the whole of Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja, we have just four polling units, how do you expect the mass population in Gwarimpa to vote in just four polling units.
“Even the actual number and exact locations of Polling Units in the country were unknown for a long time. The Jega Commission (2010 – 2015) had to embark on a verification exercise to enumerate and locate the Polling Units.
“In fact, it was only after this verification that the number of Polling Units was established as 119, 973, instead of the round figure of 120, 000 that was assumed for many years.
“Over the years, several challenges have confronted INEC with Polling Units; there is the problem of inadequate number of Polling Units available to voters.
“As a result of population growth, demographic shifts and establishment of new settlements and residential areas, existing Polling Units have become inadequate.”
According to the INEC source, inadequacy of the units implied that many of them were overcrowded during elections, providing a recipe for delays, disruptions, violence and apathy.
While noting previous efforts at establishing the units, the source said: “In 2016 before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Councils election, in response to the need to create polling units, we established the voting point settlements in the FCT.
“This is because of the new settlements that had emerged, and the increase in population everywhere. In 2018, we tried to create additional polling units and then it was very close to the 2019 elections we didn’t quite succeed,” he said.
The INEC source said that this time around, the commission was ready to engage relevant stakeholders in pushing for the establishment.
“We have issued a statement to say we will start the process of consultation. We are going to start with the political parties, CSOs, media, security; we want to expand the consultation this time around.”