By Salihi Abubakar Bello
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has increased polling units to 11,222 in Kano.
In his address during a stakeholders meeting on expanding voter access to polling units organised by INEC, Kano office, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC), Prof. A. Risqua said the available 3,148 voting points in the state will be converted to polling units making it 11,222.
According to him the increases in polling units was as a result of number submissions made available to INEC to increase polling units to allow citizens to freely exercise their franchise right.
“As part of our reforms, INEC came up with the mandate of expanding voter access to PUs, and the committee has already recommended converting all these VPs to stand-alone PUs.
“There are over five million registered voters in Kano State, with 8,074 PUs and 3,148 VPs.
“INEC has created voting points, baby polling units and voting polling settlements in polling units with more than 500 voters, but that has still not solved the hardships voters face on election days,” he mentioned.
Prof. Risque reiterated that the entire new polling units would be in public places, adding that none will be situated in individual residences, palaces, houses of politicians or places of worship.
Earlier speaking, the INEC National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, Barr. Festus Okoye said that expanding voter access confers advantage on pregnant women,vulnerable persons, women who have smaller children, people living with disabilities and everybody will access polling units at no distance.
He cautioned Nigerians that creating polling units isn’t a constituency, let’s not allow a politician to claim to have executed or bring about the project, saying it’s solely the work of INEC.
Festus revealed that section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended allotted the power to INEC to create polling units.
“The last time INEC created new PUs was in 1996 when we had only 50 million registered voters. But, as of 2019, the number has exponentially grown to over 84 million.
“This action will seriously decongest our PUs, improve their health and safety and also address the problem of continuous decline in voters turnout during elections.
He, however, clarified that the exercise is not in any way going to add any number to registered voters in each state.
The INEC commissioner also said, with the Continuous Voter Registration Exercise slated to resume on June 28, the commission had introduced an innovation where voters who are technology-savvy could begin their registration online, then proceed to their respective registration areas to have their biometrics and pictures captured.
In his submission, the Secretary of People’s Redemption Party, PRP and representative of IPAC, Malam Bala Muhammad Inuwa described the increases in polling units as long over due, but described it as a welcome development.
Malam Bala said the modern approach to electoral process in the country and courtesy of INEC that will allow citizens access to polling units almost at their doorstep would strengthen democracy and give hope to citizens.