The Independent National Electoral Commission in Akwa Ibom state (INEC), has converted 1,374 existing voting points to full fledged polling units in the state, thereby bringing the total number of polling units to 4,354 in the state.
This was disclosed by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini, during a meeting with stakeholders on expansion of voters access and establishment of new polling units, held at Ibom Hall in the state capital at the weekend on Saturday.
According to the INEC boss, the exercise was arrived at through data-driven and based on demographic and spatial consideration, stressing that, the exercise was not done based on individual or political status.
And going down memory lane, Igini revealed that the exercise of creating polling units last took place about 25years ago, adding that under the year under review, registered voters has increased geometrically while polling units has remained static.
Igini explained to stakeholders that the exercise was not done to deprive any section of the state but rather to allow voters unfettered access to polling units on election day.
“To address these problems, the Commission pursuant to its power under section 42 of the Electoral Act to “…establish sufficient number of polling units in each Registration Area and allot voters to such Polling Units” decided to convert the existing and well-known one thousand, three hundred seventy-four (1,374) voting points to full fledged polling units. This brings the total number of polling units in Akwa lbom State to four thousand, three hundred and fifty-four (4,354). The entire ongoing process is data-driven and based on demographic and spatial considerations.
“This phenomenal increase in the number of registered voters relative to the limited number of polling units (2,980) has led to over-crowded and over-congested polling units across the country and here in Akwa lbom State. This is the situation the Commission is seeking to address given that limited access to polling units have become a discouraging factor for voter participation and the voting process, resulting in delays, disruptions, violence and voter apathy.
“One important fact l must stress with respect to the new polling units, is that if you had participated in the last three elections of 2011, 2015 and 2019, you will have noticed that where registered voters at a Polling Unit numbered 1,000 and above, the voting lines were subdivided to ensure that no line had more than 500 voters. The subdivided lines were called voting points
“In this exercise, priority is given to the relocation of the existing and well-known voting points in unserved and under-served areas with due attention paid to access for Persons With Disability (PWD) and other vulnerable groups”.
The REC assured the people of the state that, the Commission would continue to remain focused on these and other important integrity-driven issues of the electoral process in the country.
“We appeal to all stakeholders to continue to support the Commission, seek information from the Commission and try to understand the processes we are putting in place in our efforts at building trust and confidence through this seamless polling unit reforms to increase citizens participation in future elections”.
Earlier, the state governor Mr Udom Emmanuel, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr. Moses Ekpo, assured the Commission of government support to enable it carry out its duty of producing credible and acceptable electoral results.
He thanked INEC for the empirical method used to arrive at creating new polling units, noting that such has led to the acceptability of the outcome by the stakeholders without protest.
However, the governor appeal to INEC to continue to give listening eyes to all, and reflect such observation if any, in its final submission to the headquarters.
Political parties, individuals, civil societies groups among others, commended the Commission for a job well done, but called on the Commission to prevail on the National Assembly for quick passage of the Electoral Bill.