In what appears to be a submission to common sense and logic, the Senate has told Professor Attahiru Jega, National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to suspend the now controversial allocation of new Polling Units, PUs.
The Senate, through its Committee on INEC, sent the advisory to Professor Jega on Thursday, September 23, 2014.
The letter, titled CREATION OF NEW POLLING UNITS BY INEC and signed by the Committee Chairman, Senator Andy Uba, pointed out that “there appears to be a general misconception that has generated controversies over the commission’s intention”.
It, consequently, advised “that the commission postpone the proposed exercise at this time, until after the 2015 general elections to allow for further review, adequate stakeholders consultation and buy-in of your good intention”.
The letter reads:
Creation of new Polling Units by INEC
“The Committee wishes to use this medium to express its confidence in the capacity of the Commission, in its drive to improve the electoral system in the country.
“The Committee has always been in full support of the reforms and policies the Commission has introduced in furtherance of its mandate to deliver free, fair, credible and acceptable elections in Nigeria. The Committee will continue to lend its support to policies and programmes that the Commission intends to embark upon towards realizing such reforms.
“The Commission’s intention to reconfigure the existing Polling Units to improve the election – day voting experience of the electorate is indeed a laudable and commendable exercise. “However, the exercise is coming at a time that the 2015 general elections are imminent and there appears to be a general misconception that has generated controversies over the Commission’s intention.
“Consequently, the Senate Committee would like to advise that the Commission postpone the proposed exercise at this time, until after the 2015 general elections to allow for further review, adequate stakeholders consultation and buy-in of your good intention.
“The Committee will like to reassure the Commission of its full support on any of its policies or programmes that will further the Commission’s goal to enhance the quality of the electoral process to sustain our fledging democracy”.
Controversy had ensued after Sunday Vanguard published INEC’s introduction of 30,000 new Polling Units, PUs, and allocated some across the country in a manner that suggested that the exercise was skewed in favour of Northern Nigeria.
The allocation showed that whereas some states in the North, which recorded less number of registered voters during the Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, got more additional PUs, some states in the South, with much more registered voters during the same CVR exercise, got less.
Of the 12 states in the country that got more than 1,000 PUs from the 30,000, only Lagos was a southern state. The other 11 states are from the North.
That was not all.
It was also discovered that INEC was yet to receive the total number of registered voters in at least 12 states of the country but still went ahead to carry out anticipatory allocation of PUs.
In addition, the Post-Business Rule Figures (the term used for the final phase of validity for the registration exercise and on which basis Permanent Voter Card, PVC are being issued and which were used for Ekiti, Osun and the coming Adamawa State guber election and which would be used for next year’s election) was not employed in allocating the PUs.
The figures that were used for the allocation were the Post-AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) which represent a lower cadre of validity in the chain.
And although the INEC Chairman had come out to defend the Commission’s actions, a cross section of Nigerians raised concerns on the propriety of the process.
More knocks for Jega
Meanwhile, NIGERIANS in Diaspora, yesterday, slammed Jega for his perceived ethnic agenda on the PUs.
Chairman, GEJ 2015/Igbo Presidency 2019- Home and Diaspora Support Group, Chief Lambert Igboanugo, in a statement made available to Sunday Vanguard, said, “It will be difficult if not practically impossible to consider him (Jega) a sellout on the issue of integrity until the new lopsided Polling Units, PUs, saga. We roundly condemn Mr. Jega’s action as a hatch job that can never hold water considering the fact that Southern Nigeria has not disappeared yet.”
Igboanugo, leader of the Nigerian community in The Netherlands, who commended Sunday Vanguard for exposing the scheme, said, “A lot of genuinely concerned Nigerians raised serious issues on his proposed lopsided new polling units craftily designed to favour the North come 2015 General Elections.”
“ GEJ 2015/Igbo Presidency 2019- Home and Diaspora Support Group commend all the personalities and Nigerian institutions that have lend their voices to condemn this outright abuse of office with sinister agenda before we have a demagogue as an umpire.”