The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, has further explained the rationale behind the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to set up new polling units across the country, ahead of the 2015 general elections.
He was on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise.
He expressed confidence that going by the elections in Ekiti and Osun states, INEC has been able to develop a logistic system that works. Therefore, the number of polling units would not matter but the system that has been put in place.
He explained that the commission had realised the need to redistribute voters based on the population statistics available to it.
Legal Practitioner, Barrister Ken Odidika, who was also part of the conversation, however, was of the view that such a decision by the commission was unnecessary. He stated that “more energy, resources and creativity” should have been put into voters’ awareness and acquisition of Permanent Voter’s Cards instead of creating new polling units.
He explained that five months to the election, it would be more productive to ensure that registered voters are not disenfranchised, rather than seeking to create more polling units, as planned by INEC.
The third guest on the segment, a Public Affairs Analyst, Sola Ojewusi, agreed with Odidika on the issue of maintaining the structure and doing more in sensitization.
Although, he noted that INEC deserves to be commended, having performed well, he said that the decision by INEC was beginning to create a feeling of distrust among the electorates.
“Some people are already thinking maybe there’s an agenda,” he said.
Idowu refereed to these comments as products of misunderstanding.
He said that INEC discovered that some polling units had very large population of voters while some have extremely low numbers and they set out to create a balance. He noted that it was unfortunate that people easily read conspiracy theories to issues like INEC’s.
He explained that INEC’s decision has been in line with the recommendations of the law. He also provided the procedures that should be followed for relocating registered voters, which only required writing to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the new state to provide the details of the old and new residence.
Odidika and Ojewusi both highlighted the issues like educating many Nigerian voters who have relocated from where they had registered as one of those INEC should be focusing on, rather than on the creation of new polling units.
They insisted that the INEC decision has created imbalance between the different regions of Nigeria and also creates avenues for politicians to return votes that do not exist.
They urged the electoral commission not to create unnecessary controversy ahead of the all important 2015 general election, as this might not be good for the country.
“This is a very fundamental policy decision, I think INEC should give this thing enough time for it to sink into people,” Ojewusi said, adding that there are alternatives to explore.
Idowu, however, insisted that INEC meant well and was making its decision in line with the law and in the interest of the country. He stated that the commission was not creating new voters, rather it was creating more spaces for already registered voters.
He gave assurances that INEC was sure that its plan would work.
“Don’t bother your head, you’re not going to be thrown to Agege, its not going to happen. You’re still going to be in the same neighbourhood. Nothing changes as far as we are concerned this is purely an administrative convenience for INEC.”
The INEC man also provided answers to series of questions from Channels Television viewers who were contributing via social media. They raised issues about voter’s registration, Permanent Voter’s Card distribution, voters’ relocation and many more.