By John Shiklam
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has disclosed that the commission received 9,777 requests for additional polling units across the country.
Speaking when he visited the National Secretariat of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday in Kaduna, he said requests for additional polling units increased from 5,700 in 2020 to 9,777.
Yakubu said the commission had not created polling units in the past 25 years since the establishment of 119,973 polling units in 1996.
According to him, “Since 1999, Nigeria had conducted six general election using the same polling units. The growing demand by Nigerians for additional polling units is increasing by the day.
“We did not ask them to forward their request, but they did that unsolicited. In fact, there is one request we received from a person requesting for about 800 polling units in his area.
“As of yesterday (February 15), we had received 9,777 additional requests for polling units.”
The INEC boss further stated that the agitation for the creation of additional polling units was not confined to a particular section of the country, “rather every section of the country is asking for more polling units.”
He explained that the ongoing consultations by the commission with critical stakeholders are to ensure that Nigerians understand why it has become necessary to have additional units.
The INEC chairman, however, lamented that over the years, voters’ zeal to exercise their rights is dropping compared to Ghana in recent times.
Yakubu said the situation was necessitated by certain factors like overcrowding, electoral violence, poor electoral service, among others, hence the reason behind the consultations.
Yakubu said: “So far, we have met with political parties, NGOs, security agencies, media, and now with ACF. Going forward, we will meet with the National Economic Council, brief the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and National Council of States.”
He added that the commission had realised that in the past, there was no adequate engagement with stakeholders, hence the decision to embark on far-reaching series of engagements.
While responding, the National Chairman of the ACF, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who was represented by the National Secretary of the forum, Mr. Murtala Aliyu, commended the commission for consulting stakeholders on the creation of polling units.
He said the ACF would educate the people of the North about the exercise.