By Umar Muhammad Puma
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it has created an additional 30,000 polling units across Nigeria, bringing the nation-wide total to 150,000 units.
The Commission said the decision was meant to fulfill its pledge to decongest polling units across the country in order to make it easier for voters to cast their votes.
In a statement released yesterday and signed by a director, Ishiaku A. Gali, INEC disclosed that the decision to create the additional polling units was taken at the Commission’s meeting last Tuesday.
With the creation of the additional polling units, Lagos now has 11,023 new units while Kano with an initial 10,127 polling units, comes a close second to Lagos with 9,809 new units.
The new units are proportionally distributed based on the previous number of units.
Meanwhile, INEC has said that the Commission does not have the wherewithal to commence diaspora voting in the 2015 election, affirming that it is “practically impossible” even if the Electoral Act, 2010 is amended to allow for such.
Speaking at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters to amend the Electoral Act, 2010, INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, said the commission does not have the wherewithal to commence such an exercise in 2015 but did not rule out its possibility in subsequent polls.
Jega also said although the Commission would want an amendment that would permit Nigerians living abroad to vote where they are but that would be in future elections.
“Voting by Nigerians in Diaspora should be allowed. It is practically impossible for us to commence that next year. But the amendment should be done before the 2015 elections for future elections,” he said.
“The issue of electronic voting should also be accommodated before the 2015 elections; but we cannot conduct elections electronically next year. It will be for future elections,” he added.
The INEC chairman also recommended for an amendment of the seven days for a run-off election for the offices of the president and governors as provided in the Electoral Act, 2010 to at least 21 days, “Because it is technically impossible to do a run-off in seven days.”
He equally requested for an extension of the days for the transfer of voters from the approved 45 by the lawmakers to 60 days due to the technicalities involved, even though the Electoral Act, 2010 provides 35 days.
According to him, an amendment to Section 25, which provides for bye-election whenever there is vacancy in a position would be appropriate so that all bye-elections would be done twice every year instead of the regular ones.
The Commission also supported the amendment to Section 29 (8) on the deployment of “the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purpose of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials.”