Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, plan to speak very soon on the server controversy trailing the conduct and outcome of the 2019 general elections.
Yakubu said on Monday, July 8, 2019, since the server matter was an issue before the Presidential Elections Tribunal, he will speak after the final judgment on all petitions.
He, however, asked interested Nigerians to go and read the statements on oath by the petitioners and the defendants to have a full grasp of the issues surrounding the controversial server.
But INEC plans to create more Polling Units, PUs, for accessibility to make voting faster and easier for the electorate.
Yakubu said the swing in the nation’s demography has led to a population surge in some cities.
He said while the Federal Capital Territory has had 562 Polling Units since its creation, the population of FCT has doubled over the years.
The nation presently boasts of 119, 973 PUs in 8,809 wards in a country with 84,004, 084 registered voters.
Apart from Polling Units, the INEC chairman said delimitation of constituencies has become imperative.
Yakubu spoke at the conclusion of a session on the review of the 2019 General Elections with the media in Abuja.
Responding to a question, he said: “In our jurisprudence, you cannot comment on a live matter in court. The matter is subjudice but after the judgment, I will speak on the server issue.
“There are a lot of documents you have not got. There are statements on oath by the petitioners and the defendants. Go and read these statements on oath. It is actually prudent to go back and read the statements.”
In Yakubu’s view, trust in the electoral process is more important than technology.
He added: “In some countries, they will be campaigning till the election day because there is trust. But in Nigeria, we print ballot papers, entrust these ballot papers with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and distribution is always done with heavy security. So, here, it is a question of trust.
“Remember, some people attacked INEC offices in some states during the last elections because of ballot papers and other sensitive materials. Trust is key in any electoral process. The major difference between us and other countries is trust.
“I cannot remember any country in Europe that does electronic voting; they still engage in manual process. Holland tried electronic voting but after 20 years, they reverted to ballot papers.”
Yakubu admitted that going by the nation’s fluid demography, the creation of more PUs is necessary.
He said: “Each time the commission makes attempt to create more Polling Units for accessibility to make voting faster and easier, it becomes a burning issue. We have to come up with the idea of Voting Points in some places to cater for increased number of voters.
“Definitely, creation of more Polling Units has to be done but we need the support of all stakeholders, including the media. We will continue to see what we can do to create more PUs. Having more Polling Units does not confer advantage on any state, group or political party.
“The idea of more Polling Units is about how Nigerians can be served. Satellite imagery has shown that there are under-served and un-served settlements.
“Before the last Area Council elections in the FCT, we saw the need to create more Voting Points because the number of Nigerians who have trooped into the territory has become higher and the Polling Units have not changed.
“The FCT used to be the smallest in population but its figure is now higher.”
The voting statistics as follows: Registered voters (84, 004, 084);
Polling Units (119, 973); and Number of Wards (8, 809).
Yakubu said the anxiety over Polling Units was affecting the delimitation of constituencies in the country.
He said: “The issues over the creation of more PUs are the same with delimitation of constituencies. We will continue to dialogue with all the stakeholders. Whatever requires legal framework amendment, we will approach the National Assembly.”
There have been challenges on delimitation of constituencies in the last 36 years.
The nation had gone through delimitation in 1922 during the colonial period; 1954; 1964; 1979 and 1983.
INEC had on June 30, 2008 launched a nationwide consultation for another delimitation of constituencies but it was greeted with protests of likely “manipulation of the process to gerrymander state boundaries whose social and economic impact the complainants were not sure of.”
The provisions for delimitation are contained in sections 112 -115 of the 1999 Constitution.
Section 112 says: Subject to the provisions of sections 91 and 113 of this constitution, INEC shall divide every state in the Federation into such number of state constituencies as is equal to three or four times the number of Federal Constituencies within that state.
Section 113 reads: “The boundaries of each state constituency shall be such that the number of inhabitants thereof is as nearly equal to the population quota as is reasonably practicable.
According to Section 114, “INEC shall review the division of every state into constituencies at intervals of 10 years and may alter such constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this section to such extent as it may consider desirable in the light of the review.
“INEC may at any time carry out such a review and alter the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this section to such extent as it considers necessary in consequence of any alteration of the boundaries of the state or by reason of the holding of a census of the population of Nigeria in pursuance of an Act of the National Assembly.”
Section 115 says: “Where the boundaries of any State Constituency established under -112 of this constitution are altered in accordance with the provisions of Section 114 of this constitution, that alteration shall come into effect after it has been approved by the National Assembly and after the current life of the House of Assembly.”
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