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INEC to begin Polling Units expansion in Nigeria

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INEC cannot be stampeded to issue Certificate of Return to Uwajumogu, says Okoye

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it plans to begin conversion of existing voting points to full fledged Pulling Units (PUs) in a few weeks time.

Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee said this when he spoke with newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said one of the elaborate programmes INEC had mapped out leading to the 2023 general elections was expanding voter access to polling units.

Okoye said that INEC conducted the 2019 general election with over 57,000 voting points, tied to the mother voting units, due to inadequate polling units.

He said that INEC had been working towards converting those voting points into full fledged polling units and to take them to underserved areas.

Okoye said the commission had consulted a broad spectrum of Nigerians who endorsed the proposal.

He said that in implementing the conversion process, INEC would also consulted stakeholders at the grassroots, especially at local governments and wards levels, where the exercise would take place.

He listed some of the stakeholders to include, the media, political parties, civil society groups and organisations, professional groups, labour unions as well as socio cultural groups and organisations.

“We have also consulted with the National Economic Council, under the leadership of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, made up of the various state governors and they have endorsed it.

“We have also made presentation to the Federal Executive Council, which has also endorsed what we intend to do.

“So, we have almost concluded with the consultations. The moment we are done with the consultation in the next weeks or so, we will move to implementation.

“This implementation will take place at the level of the local government areas and states levels, because that is where this conversion will take place.

“So at the local government areas and at the states levels, we will also consult with key stakeholders in those areas in relation to how many of the voting points will become polling units, those that will be moved and where they will be moved to.

“So we are using our Geographic Information System (GIS) Laboratory to produce the map of all the local government areas in Nigeria, based on where the polling units are located.

“Where the voting points are located and where we have underserved and unserved areas, where we have either schools or public facilities where we can locate some of these voting point that will be converted to polling units,” he said.

Okoye said the moment the commission was done with the implementation of PUs expansion, it would resume the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) using a new enrolment device.

“We are confident that young men and women who have attained the age of 18, will have an opportunity of having their names on the voters register.

“They will also have new polling units that are closer to them so that some of them don’t have to travel 10 kilometers on election day and at a period where there is restriction of movement,” he said.

On the amendment of the Electoral Act 2010, Okoye said the commission was working with the National Assembly with the hope that it would be concluded before June.

He said that when finally amended and put into use, the act would take care of some of the challenges the commission was facing with smart card readers and the use of technology in the electoral process.

“The new framework will also solve some of the problems of political parties refusing to render accounts after every election.

“It will also solve some other challenging problems in the electoral process,” he said.

Okoye expressed hope that the amendment process would be concluded before June so that INEC could apply some of the provisions to the Nov. 6 Anambra governorship election.

“However, we are not waiting for the national assembly before we proceed with plans and preparations for the Anambra governorship election because it is also constitutionally circumscribed.

“As of today, we are preparing for the Anambra governorship election with the existing electoral legal framework in Nigeria,” he said.

Emmanuel Oloniruha

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