By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has announced the creation of 56,872 polling units across the country.
With this development, Nigeria now has a total of 176, 846 Polling Units from the initial 119, 973 sequel to the conversion of voting points and voting points settlement to full-fledged Polling Units.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, revealed these at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Prof Yakubu similarly disclosed that the commission had removed 749 Polling Units from inappropriate facilities, with nine of them from shrines and several others from religious houses, royal palaces and private property.
According to the INEC Chairman, “After wide ranging consultations with stakeholders and fieldwork by our officials, the 56,872 Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements were converted and added to the existing 119,974 Polling Units.
“Consequently, the Commission is glad to report that 25 years since the current Polling Units were created in 1996, the hard nut is finally and successfully cracked after several unsuccessful attempts. Nigeria now has 176,846 full-fledged Polling Units.
“Similarly, after consultation with stakeholders, the Commission has successfully removed 749 Polling Units from inappropriate locations to appropriate public facilities or open spaces in line with our policy to guarantee unencumbered access to Polling Units for all voters.
“Of this figure, 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, 6 Mosques, 21 Churches and 9 Shrines.
“The remaining 336 Polling Units were relocated for various reasons which include distance, difficult terrain, congestion, communal conflict, new settlements and general insecurity”, he said.
A breakdown of the newly created polling units showed that Lagos and Kano States had a lion shares of 56, 872 polling units.
While Lagos was allocated 4, 861 polling units, Kano State was given 3, 148 polling units.
Ekiti State however, has the least with 250 polling units, followed by Bayelsa with 440 polling units.
The statistics further showed that the entire 19 Northern states and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have a total of 31, 196 polling units while the 17 Southern States were allocated 25, 676 polling units.
The new polling units have brought the number of polling units in Nigeria to 176, 846.
Before the addition, the number of polling units in the country was 119, 974.
Good down memory lane, the INEC Chairman said, “Following several unsuccessful attempts to create additional Polling Units despite the obvious pressure from increased number of registered voters, the Commission established Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements across the States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a pragmatic response to necessity.
“The voting points were tied to the existing Polling Units and Voting Point Settlements.
‘The number of registered voters in a Polling Unit and the Voting Point Settlement in the FCT, was used to determine their Voting Points, based on the upper and lower thresholds of 500 and 750 voters respectively.
“These were also the limits used for the 2019 General Election.
“The number of new Polling Units in a State is the number of Voting Points aggregated from those Polling Units having Voting Points. Furthermore, it was discovered that one Polling Unit in Lagos State had been wrongly categorized as a Voting Point and the error was corrected.
“With this adjustment, the actual number of approved Polling Units came to 119,974.
“As a result, the Commission arrived at the exact figure of 56,563 Voting Points in addition to 309 Voting Point Settlements in the FCT, making a total of 56,872 Voting Points”, he explained.
Yakubu added, however, that in view of the advanced preparations already made by the Commission, four pending bye-elections in Kaduna, Jigawa and Plateau States will be the last to be conducted using a combination of Polling Units and Voting Points.
Two of these elections in Sabon Gari State Constituency in Kaduna State and Gwaram Federal Constituency in Jigawa State, he disclosed, are holding this weekend while the Commission awaits the formal declaration of vacancies by the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives in respect of Lere Federal Constituency of Kaduna State and Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency of Plateau State.
“For subsequent elections, beginning from the Anambra State Governorship election holding on 6th November 2021, there will be no Voting Points any more in Nigeria”, he said