By Nathaniel Gana
5th February 2021
Leaders of the 18 registered Political Parties have unanimously thrown their weight behind the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) proposed plan to expand voters’ access to polling units in the country.
This was contained in a communique jointly signed by leaders of all political parties and INEC and issued at the end of a consultative meeting held today at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
The parties agreed that “given the current state of voter access to polling units in Nigeria, expanding access to polling units is fundamental to the exercise of the right to vote and to free, fair and credible elections”.
They noted that “there is merit in the INEC proposal of converting the existing and well-known Voting Points (VPs) and Voting Point Settlements (VPS) nationwide into full-fledged Polling Units to address the problem of voter access” and declared their full support for the proposed solution.
The communique called on INEC to “commence the process of converting the existing Voting Points (VPs) and Voting Point Settlements (VPS) nationwide into full-fledged Polling Units immediately, based on clearly articulated guidelines to be developed by INEC and shared with stakeholders.
Earlier in the course of the meeting, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu while advancing reasons for the proposed expansion, recalled that the Commission tried unsuccessfully to expand voter access to polling units in 2007, 2014 and before the 2019 General Election. According to him, these attempts were handled administratively and came too close to General Elections. Consequently, he observed, “the Commission’s intention was not properly communicated and therefore misunderstood and politicised”. He noted that the Commission had learnt from previous experiences and has now decided to engage with Nigerians by consulting widely.