INEC to Engage Stakeholders on Voter Access to Polling Units

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By Chuks Okocha

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that it is planning to engage stakeholders to expand voters’ access to polling units across the country

The commission said that in its meeting held yesterday that it deliberated on a number of issues, including the finalised arrangements for the upcoming engagements with stakeholders on expanding voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria.

In a statement issued yesterday by INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, the electoral body said it has been preparing for these national engagements to address the inadequacies of Polling Units in Nigeria and the challenges they pose to election management.

According to Okoye, “Some of these challenges include overcrowding, numerous unserved populations and poor locations, which are potentially disenfranchising millions of Nigerians, and also pose health risks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a national problem that calls for national consensus.”

Okoye also said that, “For several years the commission has tried to address this fundamental challenge to democratic consolidation and election administration with minimal success.

“This has been mainly due to inadequate engagement between the Commission and stakeholders. Consequently, the Commission has had to resort to interim measures such as creating Voting Points at Polling Units nationwide and establishing Voting Point Settlements in the Federal Capital Territory.

“These engagements will afford an opportunity for the Commission to consult with stakeholders in order to build a genuine national consensus to address the problem of declining voter access to Polling Units.”, he said.

Accordingly, Okoye said, in the next few weeks, “the commission plans to engage with diverse stakeholders including political parties, civil society organisations, religious leaders, traditional institutions, labour unions, socio-cultural organisations, various arms of the federal government, as well as state governments.

“Among the burning issues to be addressed at these consultations are the challenges that declining access to Polling Units pose to democracy and election management in Nigeria”, Okoye stated. .

The commission appealed to stakeholders in the electoral process and Nigerians at large to work with it to address this major issue.