By Adeyemi Adeleye
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday announced the creation of additional 4,861 polling units in Lagos State.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos, Sam Olumekun, said the exercise would help in decongesting the 8,464 existing polling units spread across the 245 wards in the state.
The REC spoke at the Commission’s Expanded Election Stakeholders Meeting organised in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that with this exercise, Lagos now has a total of 13,325 polling units to serve a population of 6,570,291 registered voters in the state in the 2023 General Election.
Olumekun said that the phenomenal population growth and settlements that took place in Lagos in the last 25 years necessitated the expansion of polling units.
“We expect that expansion of voters access to polling units should resolve the age long problems of polling units crises on election day.
“This exercise will expand voters access to polling units by converting existing voting points and voting settlements into full polling units, and where necessary relocating new existing ones to places where they are closer to and/or more accessible to voters.
“The exercise will decongest existing polling units by reducing the number of voters per polling unit.
“It will improve the quality of access to electoral services provided to all Nigerian voters by the commission, including better access to polling units for person with disability,” he said.
The commissioner said the exercise would also help to address the declining voter turnout at elections due to lack of access to polling units thereby consolidating democracy and enhancing transparency and credibility of electoral process.
He said that the exercise would further enhance the opportunity of fair representations for new settlements that were not in existence in 1996.
On the new polling units, Olumekun pointed out that Alimosho Local Government now had the highest number of 1545 polling unit, followed by Kosofe Local Government Area with 899 polling units.
According to him, Alimosho, which had 701 PUs before, now had additional 844 PUs while Kosofe LGA, which had 586 PUs, now had additional 313 PUs.
He added that Oshodi LGA, which had 510 PUs before, now had additional 380 PUs, making 890 PUs, while Mushin, which had 808 PUs before, now had additional 57 to come third with a total of 865 PUs.
On the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), Olumekun said that the commission had approved the modalities for Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise nationwide billed to commence June 28.
“For the exercise, the Commission will deploy a new technology known as INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED) which allows online registration as an alternative method for those who have access to internet facilities to pre-register, thereby reducing the inconveniences on voters,” he said.
Olumekun, however, said that new registrants would appear physically for biometrics and facial capture at either state office or local government office.
Speaking with newsmen, the state Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, commended the electoral body for the polling unit expansion, saying it would encourage more political participation.
Balogun said the new polling units would reduce voter apathy and give room for greater involvement of citizens in the electoral process.
However, the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Deji Doherty, urged INEC to create special polling units for physically-challenged people, saying that provisions were not made for them in the exercise.
Doherty said the PDP expected INEC to create polling units in the riverine areas of the state, saying that voters in the areas always found it hard to participate in the electoral process during election.
Also speaking, Mr Waheed Ishola, the Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Lagos State, commended INEC for the expansion, adding that it would help reduce voter apathy.
Ishola, however, urged political parties not to leave the responsibility of mobilising voters for elections in the hand of INEC and NOA.
NAN reports that the meeting had in attendance leaders of political parties, civil society organisations and security agencies, among others.(NAN)