The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has justified why it intends to create additional thirty thousand polling units across the country, saying it was done with fairness and equity.
In a press conference to clear the allegation by some critics, including the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA), who claimed that the additional PUs will give advantage to the north, Jega said the creation of the new PUs was done without prejudice to the existing PUs created in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON).
He explained that what the commission will do is to distribute the new PUs by splitting some existing ones which are usually overcrowded during elections or creating new ones where new settlements have come up, without denying any state the opportunity of having its own quota.
He said the rationale behind creating the new PUs was because the population of the country has increased above what it used to be, hence the existing PUs will not be affective for a free, fair and credible elections in 2015.
“For example, in 1996 when the current polling unit structure was established, the estimated population of the country was about 110 million. In 2006, after a national population census, the population was 140 million.
“In 2011, when the voters’ registration was undertaken, the population was estimated to about 160 million. Today the population is estimated to be around 175 million. This represents nearly 60 per cent rise in the population since 1996”, Jega said.
He however said that the policy is not yet implemented, but said that the memorandum of understanding has been signed between the stakeholders following due process.
He also said that time constraint would not be an impediment for the new PUs, adding that it will be done before 2015 elections to ensure credible polls and more participation by voters given that movement and official activities are usually banned on the day of election.
He said that from statistical projections, each state will have some additional polling units from 15 per cent of the total being newly created, irrespective of the number of PUs already existing in the states.
Meanwhile, he reiterated that elections will still hold in the troubled states of the north east, expressing confidence that the people there will turn out to exercise their franchise.