From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
An appeal has been made to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to relocate polling units from the homes of traditional and religious leaders and other important dignitaries in the country.
The Chairman, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim, in a message during INEC’s consultative meeting with labour unions and professional associations on the proposed expansion of voter access to polling units in Nigeria held in Abuja on Tuesday, warned that the siting of the polling units is giving the Commission a bad image.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Elections Debate Group, Eddie Emessiri, who represented Ibrahim, narrated his experience with election monitoring, saying: ‘During the 2015 and 2019 general elections, I was in charge of some BON organisations that went round the poling units in Mararaba, Jukwai, Karu, FCT.
‘We realised that some of the polling units were located in the homes of the traditional rulers in those areas, and if you are not a Kwari or your name is not a Kwari name, you will never get there nor would they allow you to vote there.
‘At the end of the election, results were produced from those places, but the problem is that if those results were accepted by the people that were in charge there, there was nothing wrong with it, but what we are saying is that we might need numbers compared to what we have in those polling areas.
‘There are other areas like primary schools that produced better results. I will therefore advice that you remove polling units from the homes of the traditional rulers or religious leaders or important dignitaries in the communities because those are the areas that cause problems and give INEC a bad name. You are not there but it is INEC they will call when they want to talk,’ he appealed.
In his remarks during the event, INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu said that the purpose of the ongoing consultation is to build a broad national consensus towards addressing the crisis of voter access to polling units in the country.
We have been reassured by the National Assembly that work on the bill will be concluded in the next few months. Let me once again appeal to the National Assembly for expeditious consideration and passage of the bill. In addition, we are also preparing to engage with the leadership of the National Assembly on the issue of the division, revision and alteration of electoral constituencies in Nigeria. The Commission’s discussion paper on the matter is being finalised.
‘Let me once again reassure Nigerians that while we are pursuing the expansion of voter access to polling units and reform of the electoral legal framework through the quick passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, the Commission is also working hard on the resumption of voters’ registration.
‘This will enable citizens that have not registered before or those that may wish to transfer their registration to other areas where they wish to vote in future elections to do so. We are also working on new innovations to deepen the deployment of technology to improve electoral integrity in Nigeria.
‘The Commission shall remain focused on these and other important issues. For this reason, we appeal to labour unions and professional associations to continue to support the Commission,’ he noted.