Two months after it hinted to Nigerians of its plan to increase the number of polling units across the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), on Wednesday, announced a figure of 176,846 as the total number of PUs across the country.
Addressing a gathering of some of his national Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and journalists, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said before the Commission embarked on the exercise of creating additional PU, the nation had been using 119, 973 created in 1996, about twenty-five years ago.
He, however, clarified that the new PUs would be effective from November 6 when the governorship election would be conducted in Anambra State.
He said: “However, in view of the advanced preparations already made by the Commission, four pending bye-elections in Kaduna, Jigawa and Plateau States will be the last to be conducted using a combination of Polling Units and Voting Points. Two of these elections in Sabon Gari State Constituency in Kaduna State and Gwaram Federal Constituency in Jigawa State are holding this weekend while the Commission awaits the formal declaration of vacancies by the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives in respect of Lere Federal Constituency of Kaduna State and Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency of Plateau State.
“For subsequent elections, beginning from the Anambra State Governorship election holding on 6th November 2021, there will be no Voting Points anymore in Nigeria.”
To arrive at the new figure of PUs, Professor Yakubu further revealed that the Commission converted the existing 56,872 Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements and added them to the existing 119,974 Polling Units.
Further justifying the essence of the new arrangement, the INEC chairman declared that about 749 polling units were removed from places he called “inappropriate locations” to public spaces where eligible voters would find them accessible. He also clarified that others were removed from areas of communal clashes, insecurity and because such areas were difficult to access.
He said: “Similarly, after consultation with stakeholders, the Commission has successfully removed 749 Polling Units from inappropriate locations to appropriate public facilities or open spaces in line with our policy to guarantee unencumbered access to Polling Units for all voters. Of this figure, 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, 6 Mosques, 21 Churches and 9 Shrines. The remaining 336 Polling Units were relocated for various reasons which include distance, difficult terrain, congestion, communal conflict, new settlements and general insecurity.”
Also giving an update on the forthcoming governorship elections in two states in the South-West geo-political zone, Professor Yakubu said” the Commission has approved that the Ekiti State Governorship election will hold on Saturday 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election will hold one month later on Saturday 16th July 2022. The detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the two elections have been uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms. We implore political parties and aspirants to ensure rancour-free primaries and thereafter conduct peaceful electioneering campaigns.”