INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this at a stakeholders meeting with political parties’ leaders in Abuja, saying that expanding voters access to polling units in Nigeria was crucial to voters turnout in elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured that it plans create new Polling Units in the country ahead of 2023 general elections.
Yakubu said experience had shown that enhancing voters access to polling units usually increase turnout in elections.
He said that many countries expanded access to polling units with every fresh registration of voters while others do so routinely or before every general election.
“Increase in voter population, emergence of new settlements, urbanisation, distance to existing polling units, difficult terrain and other factors require constant review to give the voter a pleasant experience on election day.
“Above all, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to decongest polling units to minimise overcrowding and reduce the long distances voters travel often in overcrowded means of transport in order to vote during elections.
“Unfortunately, the last time new polling units were established was in 1996,that’s 25 years ago and this was done by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON).
“There were 120,000 polling units to serve a projected population of about 50 million voters in Nigeria at that time,” he said.
Yakubu added:“Today, the number of registered voters is 84,004,084 and it is set to rise after we resume Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2023 General Election. Yet, the number of polling units remains static.
“In fact, the biggest category of registered voters on our data base (aged 18 to 25 years) was not even born when the current polling units were established a quarter of a century ago.”
Yakubu said that INEC tried unsuccessfully to expand voter access to polling units in 2007, 2014 and even before the 2019 general elections.
He said, however, that those efforts were made administratively, while were too close to general elections adding that the intention was not properly communicated, therefore misunderstood and politicised.