INEC creates 1,374 new polling units in Akwa Ibom – Official
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has created 1,374 new polling units in Akwa Ibom State, bringing the total polling units in the state to 4,354.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Mike Igini, announced this on Saturday in Uyo at a “stakeholders briefing” on the expansion of voters access and establishment of new polling units.
Mr Igini said the exercise was entirely data driven and status neutral, stressing that despite the increased number of registered voters the access to polling units has remained constant in the last 25 years. This, he said, informed the creation of new polling units.
Mr igini said polling units in the state had witnessed over-crowding in previous elections as a result of the phenomenal increase in the number of registered voters which, according to him, now stood at 2,119,727.
He said the situation has become a discouraging factor for voters participation in the voting process, resulting in delays, disruptions, and violence and voter apathy which necessitated the creation of new polling units.
“By 2023 General Election, Nigeria will be conducting a centenary Election – 100 years of efforts at conducting democratic elections.
“With the astronomical increase in the number of registered voters, the existing polling units created in 1996 that were projected to serve about 50 million registered voters, however, served 57.93 million (1999), 60.82 million (2003), 61.56 (2007),73.52 million (2011), 68.83 (2015) and 84,004,084 (2019) registered voters.
“Akwa Ibom State alone that was only a part of the old Calabar Municipality with just 453 registered voters then, now has 2,119,727 registered voters. This is expected to increase after the commencement of Continuous Voters Registration (CVR)
“This phenomenal increase in the number of registered voters relative to the limited number of polling units (2,980) coupled with the emergence of new settlements has led to over-crowded and over-congested polling units across the country and here in Akwa Ibom 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.
“To address these problems, the Commission pursuant to its power under section 42 of the Electoral Act decided to convert the existing and well-known 1,374 voting points to full-fledged polling units. This brings the total number of polling units in Akwa Ibom State to 4,354.”
Mr Igini disclosed that the new polling units will be relocated to places where people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups could have access to them.
Addressing some concerns on the creation of new wards by Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission, Mr Igini said INEC will only conduct elections on the existing 329 Registration Areas.
A representative of the people living with disabilities sought to know how elections can be fair when people on wheelchairs are excluded from polling units.
He advocated the use of electronic voting in 2023 so that people with disabilities can vote at the comfort of their house. He appealed that a sign language interpreter be engaged in subsequent meetings.
The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, promised to support INEC in conducting successful elections in the state.
Mr Emmanuel, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo, appealed to politicians and political parties to collaborate with INEC in ensuring free and fair elections.
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