By Stanley Nwanosike
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says its ongoing expansion of existing polling units would enhance access to voting centres by People with Disabilities (PWDs) and new settlements.
The commission also cited other beneficiaries to include voters in overcrowded polling units and those that would take advantage of the up-coming Continuous Voters Registration (CVR), to change their voting centres to where they reside.
Dr Emeka Ononamadu, the INEC’s Enugu state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), stated this in a statement on Saturday, in Enugu.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that on April 30, INEC announced the expansion of polling units in the state from 2,958 to 4,147; following conversion of the existing 1,189 voting points to full-fledged polling units.
Ononamadu explained that the new polling units, created by a strict adherence to the guidelines for conversion, was meant to curb overcrowding and inadequate voters’ access to polling units.
He said that some of the present locations of polling units made access almost impossible, particularly for PWDs, adding that such polling units would be reviewed and properly relocated.
“You are aware that since the last time polling units were created, lots of new settlements, residential areas, layouts, living squares and other new areas where Nigerians do businesses have come up.
“What has happened is that these new areas have not been served with any polling unit. This has led to voters going too far from their residence or experienced congestion, due to very high number of registered voters in a polling unit,’’ he said.
The REC explained that the guidelines for the creation of polling units had provided the conditions for the siting of such units in a location, to include being a public place, preferably, centrally located and accessible; and non-sectarian, such as community halls, health centres, court premises, public recreation centres, among others.
“Spacious facilities that can comfortably sit election officials, party agents, election observers and other legitimate election staff.
“And adequately covered locations such as classrooms and halls; and locations or facilities that can take more than one polling unit,’’ are the other considerations, he said.
Ononamadu said that the new locations for new polling units identified would be subjected to verification and a stakeholder engagement.
“The commission will interact with relevant stakeholders to bring them up to speed with what the commission is doing in that direction.
“The same standard and guideline applied in Enugu State is also applicable all over the federation.
“Therefore, your support, through correction of any falsehood that may emerge, is what we need at the moment,’’ he added. (NAN)