By Umar Muhammad Puma
Foremost election and civic education coalition, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), has warned all groups and interested stakeholders from across Nigeria not to use the issue of new polling units to overheat the polity, even as they urged the citizens to maintain peace and remain calm.
The group in a statement issued yesterday and signed by its Chairman, Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi said the TMG has observed with consternation the debates raging over the creation of new Polling Units (PUs) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“As we seek more clarifications from INEC on this important exercise, which seeks to decongest existing polling units by creating new ones, it is our view that is a bit too hasty to begin to take potshots at the Commission. What is needed now is not ethnic or sectional rage, but a constructive dialogue that would address the fundamental issue on the ground.
The group also called on Nigerians to digest the facts and considerations that INEC has put forward regarding what informed the creation of the new polling units.
“While it is understandable that the lack of clarity with regards to some of the figures and explanations provided by the INEC have resulted in furious reactions from groups across the country, TMG is convinced that everyone involved needs a little more time to fully comprehend what the Commission has done with regards to creating more polling units.
“We believe the cries of marginalization and the accusations that INEC has a hidden agenda favouring a section of the country are grave allegations that should not be made lightly. TMG believes that all sides need to listen to one another and reason together so that the conversation can be carried on in a manner that will illuminate the discourse for the benefit of all Nigerians.
The group however commended INEC under Jega for its resolve to sanitize the nation’s electoral process. According to him, “since the coming of Jega on board has been very engaging; he has built an enduring synergy with political parties and the civil society on critical matters regarding the electoral process. He has demonstrated unparalleled openness in admitting to some mistakes made by the Commission and continues to seek advice to move the Commission forward.
“Therefore, we have not found any reason to doubt Prof. Jega’s commitment and patriotism in this national assignment. If anything, Jega and INEC deserve commendation for the feat we have achieved in our electoral march, a feat which has been acclaimed by both local and international community.
“Having observed elections in Nigeria’s since the advent of this democratic dispensation in 1999, we are familiar with the once sordid history of Nigeria’s electoral process, especially in those years when INEC as an umpire engaged in brazen partisanship that undermined the integrity of the electoral process. We have since moved on from those dark days.
The group however called on INEC to clearly communicate its objectives with respect to the creation of the new polling units. “We argue that many of the misgivings come from the fact that information is yet to percolate thoroughly to the molders of public opinion, who are still trying to grapple with the figures to understand what INEC is trying to do.”