Furore over INEC’s new polling units

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 25th, 2014
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It is meant to shorten queues and smoothen elections.

But the allocation of the newly created 30,027 polling units by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2015 election is causing a big row.

The electoral agency last week announced its plan, which will increase the total number of polling units nationwide to 150,000.

The North got 70 per cent of the new units.

Southeast Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders cried out yesterday that the region had been shortchanged.

A member of Delta PDP Col. Joseph Achuzia, described INEC’s decision as illogical.

The Southeast zone also rejected the promotion announced by the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector General of Police. It alleged that the promotion did not promote unity.

The region spoke after a meeting of some of its governors, some ministers and political leaders at the Government House in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.

Governor Theodore Orji, who is the chair of Southeast Governors’ Forum, hosted the meeting.

Apart from Orji, the meeting was attended by Ebonyi State Governor Martin Elechi, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, the Ministers of Labour (Emeka Wogu), Health (Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu) and Aviation (Mr. Osita Chidoka) and the five state chairmen of the PDP.

PDP National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metuh told reporters that a situation where the southern part of the country is allocated 8,000 polling units and 21,000 to the North is a great disservice to Nigeria’s unity.

Metuh said: “The people of Southeast PDP reject entirely the alleged allocation of polling booths by INEC; we view it as a great disservice to the unity and progress of this country if the entire South will have 8,000 polling booths and the North will have 21,000 polling booths.

“We demand that this should be suspended forthwith as it is completely against the spirit of one Nigeria, the unity and progress of our dear country.”

He said the meeting also resolved that the Inspector General of Police should revisit the recent appointments and promotions as it affects the zone.

He said: “We are worried about the announcement of the postings and promotions in the Nigeria Police Force and we request the IG of police with the Police Service Commission to revisit these appointments and promotions with the view of properly balancing the positions.

This country belongs to all Nigerians and the Southeast is a great contributor to the progress of this country and we demand our fair of the allocation”.

Metu added: “We request that the registration of voters be extended, especially where we are having problem with the registration and the provision of the PVC.

“The officers in charge are not adequate, the materials provided in terms of handling the situation on the ground require a bit of adjustment with the timing of the INEC. So we are demanding that the INEC extend the timing accordingly.”

The meeting, however, praised the effort of the Federal Government in tackling the Ebola scourge.

“We commend the President, especially the Minister of Health, our own Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, for the effort the Federal Government has taken in containing the Ebola scourge.

The Southeast PDP identified with all the measures that the Federal Government has resolved to undertake in handling this grave matter of concern to the entire country”.

The meeting also resolved to support President Goodluck Jonathan’s yet undeclared aspiration for President in 2015.

It noted: “We are totally in support; we believe that this country in the past three and half years has witnessed great transformation and we want it to continue.”

Col. Achuzia asked: “What is the rationale behind this move?” The inference from the INEC move, he added, is that majority of the voters in the country are in the North, whereas the cleaning up of the voter register done recently by INEC has belied that notion.

Achuzia, a former secretary-general of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said he would rather wait for INEC to go ahead with the latest resolve, before making any further statement.

“We would like to wait until it becomes a reality that INEC has done that, then it has to tell us the justification for establishing 70 per cent of the new polling units in the North. This is my position for now.”

He said in the past, enumerators who registered voters in the North usually based their figures on estimates by virtue of being told that they are not allowed to get into certain places. “They always use it as an excuse. It didn’t start today.

Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Bayo Dayo is worried about the lopsidedness in the distribution of the 30,000 additional polling units. He said: “Professor Attahiru Jega is an intelligent and honest man but if his honesty is not in the best interest of the Southwest, we will react and if need be, we will seek redress in the court.”

Civil rights activist Comrade Moshood Erubami said it would be premature to fault INEC’s wisdom in the distribution of the additional polling units when we don’t know the criteria used.

Afenifere chieftain Chief Supo Shonibare agreed that the distribution was lopsided. “I am not aware INEC is an authorised body on population census. If it is based on estimate, it is wrong to give a section of the country more polling units at the expense of the other,” he said.

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