By Nathaniel Gana
5th May 2021
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu yesterday led a delegation from the Commission’s headquarters to inspect Voting Points (VPs) converted to Polling Units (PUs) in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Nasarawa State.
After extensive consultations with various stakeholders, the Commission recently embarked on a nationwide exercise to convert existing VPs to full-fledged PUs in its bid to expand Voters’ access to PUs. The exercise is currently being verified across the country.
Prof. Yakubu and his team were at the Minister’s Gate, Life Camp PU 001 which had six VPs and 2,857 registered voters; Government Secondary School, Life Camp with eight VPs and 3,984 registered voters; as well as Garki Ward, Apo Legislative Quarters, Zone E PU 018, with seven VPs and 3,686 registered voters.
Prof. Yakubu also toured locations in Karu, including the Karu International Market in Nasarawa State. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), FCT, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Electoral Officer, Abuja Municipal Council (AMAC), Mrs. Fadimatu Aliyu Bakari and other staff of the FCT office conducted Prof. Yakubu and his team round the FCT locations, while the REC, Nasarawa State, Dr Uthman Ajidagba also showed the team round locations in Nasarawa State.
The INEC Chairman expressed satisfaction with the progress made so far, even as he admitted that there’s still more work to be done in order to decongest PUs and bring them closer to the people.
Addressing Journalists during the tour, the INEC Chairman said “the purpose of the visit is the verification that the Commission is embarking on. All the National Commissioners are out, visiting the states of the Federation to verify the work of converting voting points to polling units. So, we decided from the Headquarters to visit some of the polling units and voting points in the FCT and Karu in Nasarawa State”.
He continued: “I have to verify that the right thing is being done in converting those voting points to polling units and relocating them in line with the Commission’s guidelines. As part of our engagement with stakeholders, we showed images of one of the congested polling units in the country at Karu in Nasarawa State.”
He said: “I’ve been assured that they have converted in the whole Karu local government, about 395 voting points into polling units. So, we have expanded access for voters. When we do the Voter Registration, which will commence on Monday, the 28th of June, we will give citizens the opportunity to choose among the new locations. Our hope is that we will not see this kind of congestion again in future elections”.
He hinted that expansion of voter access to polling units would be a continuous process going forward, as the need arises. His words: “what we have done, basically, is to build on what we did in 2019. Recall that we are converting the voting points used for the 2019 elections into polling units, but this is going to be a continuous process. One exercise will not solve the problem, but we hope we have established the mechanism that going forward, the commission will be adjusting the number of polling units as the number of registered voters increases”.
The National Commissioner supervising the North Central states, Malam Mohammed Kudu Haruna, who accompanied the INEC Chairman on the assessment tour, said the Commission planned to hold a stakeholders’ meeting at the end of the exercise, in order to harvest their views and to help the Commission improve on its work.
Commissioner Haruna buttressed the earlier point made by the Chairman that the CVR exercise would afford citizens the opportunity to choose their preferable polling unit, with the conversion of existing Voting points to autonomous polling units.
Also on the Chairman’s entourage for the assessment tour were the Special Adviser to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mohammed Kuna, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, Directors, and other Directing staff from the Headquarters.