The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) received about 9,777 unsolicited requests from Nigerians for the creation of additional polling units in the country, the National Chairman, Mahmud Yakubu, said on Tuesday.
Mr Yakubu said the requests, which were 5,700 as at October, 2020, had spiraled by over 4,000 in just four months.
The INEC Chairman made the disclosures when he visited the offices of the Arewa Consultative Forum office, in Kaduna.
The INEC chairman said the purpose of the visit was to meet with an organ of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) to brief them on the commission’s policy of expanding access to polling units in the country, adding that the issue of inadequate polling units was a national problem.
”We have had 119,973 polling units since 1996, but the number hasn’t changed as it was projected in 1996 to accommodate 50 million registered voters.
”In 1999, the country had 84 million registered voters and the number of polling units still remained the same “, he said.
As a result of the non-creation of new poling units in the country, he said there was a lot of congestion, which has not given voters a pleasant voting experience on election day.
Mr Yakubu said the INEC was clear on its intention to build a national consensus in the interest of democracy, noting that the process had begun since last week during which the Commission had already met with political parties, organizations, security agencies and the media.
The consultation, he said, was very important in any democracy, adding that was why the Commission needed to consult with stakeholders, so as to get the aggregate views of all Nigerians.
The Commission, the Chairman said, was expanding the conversation to socio-cultural associations, traditional and religious organizations, statutory bodies, such as the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council and National Council of States.
He said the Commission had contacted all groups across the country and some had already started responding via text messages.
Responding, the Secretary General of ACF, Murtala Aliyu, who received the INEC chairman and his entourage, expressed appreciation for the visit, saying that the forum would continue to support any initiative that aimed to improve the lives of the citizens and the country at large.
“Since 1996, the polling units have not been increased. We think it’s necessary for it to increase for the convenience of democracy “, he said.
He said one of the stop gap measures taken was in creating some units attached to main polling units, which has become acceptable in quite a number of places, so what was needed was to formalize such units .
Calling on all meaning Nigerians to educate the people on the issue of expansion of the units, she said this would ensure their sustainability. (NAN)