From Jessica Tamaraduoye, Asaba
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says it aims to achieve 500 voters to a polling unit in the 2015 general election to avoid overcrowding and promote transparency.
INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, disclosed this in Asaba, Delta State on Monday while delivering a keynote address at the opening of a two-day seminar organised in collaboration with the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission, DSIEC, on the theme “Building Confidence in the Electoral System”.
Jega said the commission was working round the clock to create additional 30,000 units for the 2015 general elections, for effective management of persons and election materials.
He faulted the situation during the 2011 election where over 3000 voters were attached to one polling unit, saying the number was too large and does not comply with the global standard of 300 persons per polling unit.
“We need to break this numbers down to manageable sizes. The global best practice is 300 voters per unit. So for the 2015 election, we are aiming for 500 voters per unit. So INEC offices in the various states are busy creating polling units,” he said.
The chairman explained that instead of 120,000 polling units, the commission is proposing 150,000 polling units for the 2015 polls.
“This is huge and we have to provide the personnel, the security, pay allowances and move men and materials to the units,” Jega noted.
He also disclosed that the commission has also customised result sheet for each polling unit such that it will be difficult for desperate politicians in connivance with dubious electoral officials to substitute result sheets and on the other hand make it easy for INEC to replace result sheets that might have been destroyed through natural circumstances.
Reliving the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State, the INEC chairman stated that INEC cannot afford to under-estimate public trust and confidence, as hitches in one local government area (Idemili North) almost undermined the entire exercise in the other 20 local government areas.
“We wanted that election to be the best. If you study that election, you will find out that there were many areas of remarkable improvements over previous elections that we conducted whether in Ondo or Edo states. Unfortunately, logistics preparation in one local government out of 21 there was a messed-up,” he said.
He noted that materials, especially the result sheets were not properly distributed, there was “a huge mix-up” in Idemili North LGA.
Jega said before these materials could be retrieved, re-allocated and re-distributed, a lot of time had been wasted, causing the voters to became agitated.
Declaring the seminar open, Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, called for maximum support for election management bodies across the country by all stakeholders, to ensure credible and acceptable elections.
Earlier, in his welcome address, chairman of Delta State Independent Electoral Commission, DSIEC, Moses Ogbe, noted that the seminar became necessary to build the capacity of electoral officers in conducting credible polls that would ultimately restore public trust and confidence in electoral management bodies.