By Shedrack Frank
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has added 440 Polling Units (PUs) to the existing 1,804 PUs in Bayelsa, bringing the total to 2,244.
Mr Cyril Omorogbe, the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), gave the figure during a stakeholders briefing on the Expansion of Voter Access to Polling Units on Tuesday in Yenagoa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had on Feb. 9, harped on the need to expand voter’s access to polling units.
According to Omorogbe, Bayelsa now has 2,244 polling units on the conversion of voting points, noting that before the enumeration of the Registration Area, there were 1,804 polling units in all the eight Local Government Areas of the state.
The REC said: “Nigeria has never recorded over 35 per cent of voters during elections, whereas Ghana has recorded over 59 per cent of voters participation in election.
“The Commission is expanding voter access to polling units by converting existing voting points and settlements into full polling units.
“INEC also ceases this opportunity to relocate existing polling units to places where they are closer or more accessible to voters, as well as decongest existing polling units by reducing the number of voters per polling unit.
“Another objective is to improve the quality of access to electoral services provided to all voters by the commission, including better access to polling units for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).”
Omorogbe further said the goal of the commission was to improve health and safety conditions at polling units during elections in order to comply with COVID-19 protocols and to address declining voters’ turnout at election.
He said polling units could only be located in appropriate public places such as town halls, schools, community halls, health centres, court premesis and open spaces.
Rep. Fred Agbedi, Member, representing Sagbama and Ekeremor Federal Constituency, urged the REC to provide access to polling units because most of the people could not access the voting points.
According to him, most of the area’s polling units have not been captured yet.
NAN reports that party representives, security agencies, traditional rulers and members of the Civil Liberty Organisation were among those present at the stakeholders meeting. (NAN)