Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday revealed that the springing up of new settlements, as well as population growth in the nation’s capital prompted the introduction of Voting Point Settlements (VPS).
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at a regular consultative meeting with media executives, revealing that the creation of VPS was to ensure that voters are given pleasant experience on Election Day without having to trek for kilometres to a Polling Unit (PU).
According to him, “Each time I drive round Abuja and seeing new settlements emerging, the question that comes to my mind is how do we serve these people on Election Day, without having to travel long distance?
“There are statistics that if I mention them you will all be shocked. Take Gwarinpa for example; Gwarinpa in Abuja is the biggest estate in Africa. Do you know that there are only four Polling Units in Gwarinpa? So, if all registered voters in Gwarinpa are going to vote in four polling units, how many days will it take for proceedings to finish vote?”
Yakubu said that was one of the reasons why the last commission tried to create additional polling units, which became a big issue over distribution of these polling units.
He stated, “But we had to respond to the needs of Nigerians by giving them pleasant voting experience on Election Day. That is why the commission came up with the idea of voting points in close proximity to main polling units.
He explained, “So that where you have over 500 registered voters in a particular polling unit, you create a voting point attached to the main polling unit. And so a number of these voting points were created because of new settlements as a pilot in Abuja. That didn’t change the number of polling units.
“When we did the stakeholders’ meeting for FCT alone, this was discussed and agreed. The political parties even deployed party agents to these VPS but there is no way we can extend this nationwide at the moment. So, Voting Point Settlements are only in Abuja.”
Also, INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeano, said continuous accreditation and voting do not have anything to do with the unsigned Electoral Act Amendment Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that the voting procedure has already been provided for in the existing Electoral Act.
He noted, “There was an amendment to the Electoral Act in 2015, the Amended Section 52 of the Act by creating a new Sub-section 2. That Sub-section 2 is clear, that the procedure for election shall be as determined by the commission, and the commission has determined.”
Ibeano insisted that the electoral body was willing to electronically transmit results, but added that the present law has already provided for how transmission should be done, which is manual.
“We need a law to override the law. For you to change it to electronic, you have to deal with the existing one and that is why we are looking for a legal backing to be able to do that, otherwise we would be infringing the existing law,” he said.