The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has suspended the reconfiguration of the polling unit structure and creation of additional 30, 000 polling units till after next year’s general election.
A press release signed by the secretary to the commission, Augusta C. Ogakwu, said the decision was taken at a meeting held on Tuesday where it reviewed reports sent in from states by Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, and deliberated on the controversy generated by the issue.
“Taking everything into consideration – especially the controversy over creation of additional polling units that has been overheating the polity, and the apparent inadequacy of time for the exercise – the Commission took a decision to suspend the exercise until after the 2015 general elections,” the statement said.
The commission said it will, however, continue with the use of voting points where necessary, to mitigate population pressure in overcrowded polling units during the forthcoming elections.
It said it will relocate polling units from unsuitable locations and as much as possible ensure that polling units are located in enclosures such as classrooms, rather than in open spaces.
Stakeholders and various groups had opposed what they perceived as an unrealistic and disproportionate allocation between the North and South, calling for a review of the proposal.
Leaders of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly, SNPA, led by Ijaw elder statesman, Edwin Clark, had rejected the plan which was going to allocate 21, 615 polling units to the North, the South got only 8, 412 units.
But INEC’s chairman, Attahiru Jega has defended the commission’s stand, saying that those criticising the plan do not have clear understanding of the processes involved while explaining that the allocation to the North which is more than double that of the south is due to the fact that the former has a higher number of registered voters.
The electoral body had said it was targeting a maximum of 500 registered voters per polling unit in the forthcoming election year with the plan.