The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in coming weeks plans to engage stakeholders across the country with a view to finding solutions to the problem of voter access to polling units during elections, which the commission considers to be a national problem.
According to a press release signed by Mr Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman,
Information and Voter Education Committee, the stakeholder the commission intend to engage include political parties, civil society organizations, religious leaders, traditional institutions, labour unions, socio-cultural organizations, various arms of the federal government, as well as state governments.
The press statement reads:
“The Commission met today 2nd February 2021 and deliberated on a number of issues including the finalized arrangements for the upcoming engagements with stakeholders on expanding voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria;
For several weeks, the Commission has been preparing for these national engagements to address the inadequacies of Polling Units in Nigeria and the challenges they pose to election management. Some of these challenges include overcrowding, numerous unserved populations and poor locations, which are potentially disenfranchising millions of Nigerians, and also pose health risks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a national problem that calls for national consensus;
For several years the Commission has tried to address this fundamental challenge to democratic consolidation and election administration with minimal success. This has been mainly due to inadequate engagement between the Commission and stakeholders. Consequently, the Commission has had to resort to interim measures such as creating Voting Points at Polling Units nationwide and establishing Voting Point Settlements in the Federal Capital Territory. These engagements will afford an opportunity for the Commission to consult with stakeholders in order to build a genuine national consensus to address the problem of declining voter access to Polling Units;
In the next few weeks, the Commission plans to engage with diverse stakeholders including political parties, civil society organizations, religious leaders, traditional institutions, labour unions, socio-cultural organizations, various arms of the federal government, as well as state governments. Among the burning issues to be addressed at these consultations are the challenges that declining access to Polling Units pose to democracy and election management in Nigeria;
The Commission appeals to stakeholders in the electoral process and Nigerians at large to work with us to address this major issue”.