By Nathaniel Gana
29th October 2021
With barely a week to the Anambra State governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would not deploy staff and materials to 86 out of the 5,720 Polling Units in the State.
According to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made the disclosure today at a special meeting with leaders of Political parties held at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the polling units, which constitute only 1.5 per cent of the total number of polling units in the State, do not have voters.
Providing further clarification, Prof. Yakubu said the Anambra Governorship election would be the first time voting will be taking place in polling units since the recent conversion of voting points, arising from the successful expansion of voter access to polling units in Nigeria. An additional 1,112 Polling Units (PUs) were established in Anambra State after the exercise and added to the existing 4,608 PUs, bringing the total number to 5,720.
He said: “Voters were encouraged to seize the opportunity of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise to transfer to the new Polling Units most convenient for them. Many did not do so. This can be partly attributed to the security situation in the State, which has affected the Commission’s pre-election outdoor activities, including voter education and sensitisation. Understandably, the voters have also been more circumspect in asking for transfer to Polling Units”.
The INEC Chairman further explained that the Commission did not use its powers under Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to allot voters to the new polling units in order to minimise the disruptions from such a decision, due to the forthcoming Governorship election.
He said: “Consequently, out of the 5,720 Polling Units in Anambra State, 86 (1.5%) have no voters. For that reason, the Commission will not be deploying personnel and materials to these Polling Units. Furthermore, 894 (15.6%) of the Polling Units have between 1 and 49 voters. Election will hold in these Polling Units”.
Prof. Yakubu used the occasion to reassure the party leaders and Nigerians of INEC’s readiness to conduct the governorship election as scheduled. His words: “Let me reassure you that the Commission is ready for the Anambra State Governorship election next weekend. We have moved all non-sensitive materials for the election to the 21 Local Government Areas of the State. As usual, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is handling the delivery of sensitive materials to the State on schedule. Our State office in Awka is arranging for stakeholders to inspect the materials at the premises of the CBN in Awka. As is the case in all elections, the sensitive materials are moved under security escort to each Local Government Area, from where they are distributed to the Registration Areas or Wards and finally to Polling Units on Election Day. I urge you to inform your Party Agents to be present for inspection of the materials at the CBN and to follow the movement of the materials to various locations should you choose to do so”.
Responding, Chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) and Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Dr Leonard Nzenwa, expressed delight with the successes achieved so far with IPAC’s intervention towards ensuring inter-party harmony. He noted that so far, the parties and candidates have played by the rules in their campaigns.
He lamented the continuous detention of the Labour Party ‘s candidate for the election by his abductors, observing that the adverse actions of non-state actors have continued to heat the polity in the State.
Nzenwa urged INEC to do all within its powers to ensure a free and fair election in Anambra State.