Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has said it will create additional 57,023 Polling Units across the country, increasing the number of voting units from 119,973 to 176,996.
The then Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria had created the current PUs Twenty five years ago, the commission noted that it was necessary to make the move so as to increase the number of registered voters, and include the emergence of new settlements across the country, tackle difficult terrain, and the need to depopulate PUs to prevent electoral fraud.
It was revealed to newsmen that the Commission applied a lower and upper limit threshold to disaggregate the present PUs in the country.
As a means of trying to eliminate electoral malpractices, the commission noted that some of the units were said to have more than 1500 registered voters, which increases the activity.
The commission said it settled for the application of 500 lower limits and 750 upper limits in the process of disaggregation, making the minimum number of voters for any PU would be 500.
The INEC boss, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, had played a key role in ensuring that some powerful forces whose intent was to scuttle the plan did not prevail.
If the said plan was achieved, some States would not have benefited from the allocation.
Recall that the immediate past leadership of INEC was alleged to have attempted to introduce 30,000 Pus. The arrangement had seen the North allocated over 21,000 while the entire South got a little above 8,000.
It was gathered, however, by a newsman that some persons were pushing for a lower limit threshold of 1000 and an upper limit of 1,999 which would have deprived some states much PUs.
According to a source, “the direct implication of this would have been possible chaos on election day and a scenario whereby most voters would be disenfranchised. For instance, Polling Units that would have been lost if the 1,000 minimum and 1,999 upper thresholds had been applied would have been Lagos, 2,895; Osun, 400; Ekiti, 160; Oyo, 1,078; and Delta; 1,012.”
The source said it was during the flag off of the process on April 19, 2021, that the Commission finally okayed the move.
A memo to that effect dated April 20, 2021, signed by Maryam Iya Musa, a director at the Commission was said to have backed the development.
The document, INEC/DE/No:72/2021, titled: “Decision Extraction on the Amendment of the Threshold for the Conversion of Voting Points to Polling Units,” seen by newsmen reads: “The Commission at its meeting held on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, deliberated on the above subject and approved as follows: The adjustment of the lower and upper thresholds for Voting Points from 750 and 1000 to 500 and 750 respectively
“That the ICT and Electoral Operations Departments and the state and local government area offices of the Commission should adopt these new thresholds in implementing the ongoing programme of expanding voting access to Polling Units.
“You may wish to refer the extract to all Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and Directors for information and necessary action, please.”
A source at the Commission’s headquarters further disclosed that: “The voting point platform, as widely known and accepted by stakeholders, was based on lower and upper thresholds of 750 and 1,000 registered voters respectively.
“They were used in 2011, 2015, and 2019. That is why their conversion to independent polling units to decongest existing Polling Units appears to be the reason Nigerians have accepted the initiative.”