The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not deploy personnel or election materials to the new 86 polling units in Anambra for the state governorship election.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this during the commission’s consultative meeting with leaders of political parties on Friday in Abuja.
Yakubu explained that the 86 polling units were among the recently converted polling units and did not have any registered voters in the units.
He noted that the state would be the first that voting would be taking place in new polling units since the recent successful conversion of voting points arising from the expansion of voter access to polling units in Nigeria.
He recalled that an additional 1,112 polling units were established in Anambra in addition to the existing 4,608 locations, bringing the total number of polling units in the State to 5,720.
“Voters were encouraged to seize the opportunity of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise to transfer to the new polling units most convenient for them. Many did not do so.
“This can be partly attributed to the security situation in the state which has affected the commission’s pre-election outdoor activities, including voter education and sensitisation.
“Understandably, the voters have also been more circumspect in asking for transfer to polling units.
“At the same time, the Commission did not use its powers under Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to allot voters to the new polling units in order to minimise the disruptions that may occur from such a decision in view of the forthcoming Governorship election.
“Consequently, out of the 5,720 polling units in Anambra State, 86 (1.5 per cent) have no voters.
“For that reason, the Commission will not be deploying personnel and materials to these polling units.
“Furthermore, 894 (15.6 per cent) of the polling units have between 1 and 49 voters. Election will hold in these polling units.
“We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that all Polling Units have voters allotted to them ahead of the 2023 General Election.
“Meanwhile, in our avowed commitment to transparency, the Commission has compiled a comprehensive list of all the Polling Units without voters as well as those having under 50 registered voters.
“Copies of the list will be made available to all political parties at this meeting. The same document will also be uploaded to our website and social media platforms for public information,’’ Yakubu said.
He reassured the party leaders that INEC was ready for the Anambra governorship election on Nov. 6.
He said that the commission had moved all non-sensitive materials for the election to the 21 local government areas of the state.
“As usual, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is handling the delivery of sensitive materials to the state on schedule. Our State office in Awka is arranging for stakeholders to inspect the materials at the premises of the CBN in Awka.
“As it is the case in all elections, the sensitive materials are moved under security escort to each Local Government Area from where they are distributed to the Registration Areas or Wards and finally to Polling Units on Election Day.’’
Yakubu therefore urged the party leaders to inform their agents to be present for inspection of the materials at the CBN premises and to follow the movement of the materials to various locations should they chose to do so.
He said that as required by law, INEC requested political parties to upload the names and other personal details of their polling agents to a dedicated portal at least two weeks to the election.
The chairman, however, said that at the deadline of the directive on Oct. 21, 17 out of 18 political parties participating in the election nominated their agents for all or a substantial number of the polling units and collation centres.
“One party failed to nominate a single agent for any polling unit or collation centre although it has a governorship candidate and a running mate participating in the election.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the statistics provided by INEC revealed that Boot Party was the only party that failed to submits its agents.
Yakubu said that with just a few days to the state election, it was INEC hope that any lingering grey areas would be discussed and addressed at the meeting.
“We will also brief you about the assurances we received from the security agencies and the outcome of our interactive meeting with the Joint Committee of the National Assembly this week.’’
Responding, the Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Leaonard Nzenwa, said that the council, mindful of the situation in Anambra, had prevailed on its members to maintain highest decorum and play by the rules.
He regretted that it has not yielded the expected result.
“Sadly, the Governorship Candidate for Labour Party, Dr Obiora Abasi, who was kidnaped months ago has not been let off the hook even with millions paid as ransom by his family and well-wishers,’’ he said.
Nzenwa said that the state election had not only been adjudged to be the most costly state election in Nigeria, INEC has also validated it that it had cost it much.
He urged INEC to put its best forward to conduct credible election, while calling for more sensitisation for people of the state to come out to vote in spite of the present worries in the state.