Ahead of next Saturday’s elections, Independent National Electoral Commission has created additional 57,023 voting points to address the large number of voters which now stands at 84 million.
Information obtained by our correspondent showed that the voting points would be carved out of existing 119,973 polling units nationwide.
This comes barely a month after Chairman of INEC, Mr Mahmood Yakubu, said more voting units would not be created.
Yakubu had said last month, “On polling units, the commission wishes to assure the media that there is no change in the number of polling units and voting points used for 2015 general elections and 2016 Area Council elections in FCT.
“Any insinuation that new polling units, voting points or voting points are being created by the commission is utterly baseless and should be disregarded.”
However, it was learnt that following a high-powered meeting by INEC national commissioners and other relevant stakeholders, it was decided that 57, 023 new voting points had to be created.
It was learnt that the move had become necessary because the number of registered voters had risen by 15 million since 2015 and as thus the old arrangement was not feasible.
The additional voting points would also ensure that voting is done in record time in order to allow for quick collation of results which will be expected to take longer due to the high number of political parties which has since risen to 91.
2015 Presidential election had 14 candidates but 2019 has a record 72.
Collation and announcement of results which would require the announcement of each political party one after the other, might take as long as five days and INEC was doing everything possible to ease the process.
A national commissioner at INEC said, “We have established 57,023 voting points across the country because the number of voters has increased. We are creating more voting points and not more polling units.”
The commissioner explained that a voting point is created when a polling unit has more than 500 registered voters.
He said, “A voting point is derived from a polling unit. When a polling unit has more than 500 registered voters, a voting point can be carved out of it and set aside but it is not completely independent. Ideally, a polling unit should not have more than 750 voters.”
When asked why INEC changed its mind, the commissioner said, “Once a polling unit has more than 750 voters, it is best to devolve a new voting point out of it because if the entire 750 turn up for election, they will not be able to complete accreditation and voting by 2pm.
“In 2015, there were 69 million voters but now we have 84 million. So, that accounts for the increase in the number of voting points.
“As I said, these voting points are like a sub-polling unit. For instance, if Gaskiya Primary School is a polling unit but has 1,200 registered voters, we can create a voting point out of that unit, to make it two to allow for a better and faster voting process. So, at the end, all the results from that unit would be collated as one.”
When contacted, INEC National Commissioner for Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Festus Okoye, confirmed the creation of more voting points.
He said it had become necessary due to the large number of voters.
Okoye said, “We have created more because the number of voters has risen to 84 million. INEC regulation states that voting points are created out of polling units based on multiples of 500 and a maximum of 750 registered voters or as may otherwise be determined by the commission.
“We cannot use 2015 template because the total number of registered voters was 69 million but now it is 84 million. If we use the same template, it means we have not learnt any lessons at all.”