FCT Council Poll: We’ll not conduct election in empty polling units, INEC Boss warns

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By Joy Odor

The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has warned FCT candidates contesting for Area Council Election on the 12th of February, 2022 and the residents that it will not conduct election in any polling units where there is no voters.

Professor Yakubu gave the warning while speaking on the preparation of the FCT Council election during the 2022 First Quarterly Consultation Meeting with the Media Organizations in Abuja on Friday.

The lNEC Chairman said this is sequel to the fact that 593 out of 2,822 (or 21%) of the total, do not have voters.

He said the warning became imperative because the voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to new Polling Units.

Professor Yakubu sought for the support of media organisations to educate FCT voters who wish to transfer from their present Polling Units to new ones created as part of the Commission’s expansion of access polling units across the country.

The INEC Chairman informed that the media support was crucial to the success of the recent expansion of voter access to polling units for the first time in 25 years since the initial delimitation in 1996.

“In the next 23 days i.e. 12th February 2022, a major end of tenure election will hold in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to elect 6 Area Council Chairmen/Chairwomen and 62 Councillors.

“On this note, I want to draw your attention to the distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT, particularly the fact that 593 out of 2,822 (or 21%) of the total, do not have voters.

“This is because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new Polling Units. The list of Polling Units having 0 – 50 registered voters in the FCT is among the documents in your folders for this meeting.

“The Commission looks forward to the support of media organisations to encourage voters who wish to transfer from their present Polling Units to new ones created as part of the Commission’s expansion of access polling units across the country. After all, your support was crucial to the success of the recent expansion of voter access to polling units for the first time in 25 years since the initial delimitation in 1996.

“For emphasis, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed in the FCT elections which is the second major election after the Anambra Governorship election held in November last year.

“The 68 constituencies cover extensive urban and rural locations sharing border with five States in the North Central and North Western parts of the country. This is yet another opportunity to pilot the efficacy of the BVAS in a different geographical, geo-political and electoral context.

“The same technology will be deployed in all forthcoming elections across the country. Similarly, for all elections going forward, Polling Unit results will be uploaded in real-time on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal” Prof Mahmood stressed.

“This will be followed by two Governorship elections in Ekiti State on 18th June 2022 and Osun State on 16th July 2022. Party primaries for the Ekiti State Governorship election are scheduled for 4th – 29th January 2022.

“For the Osun State Governorship election, primaries will hold from 16th February to 12th March 2022. In the case of Ekiti State, all the 18 political parties have indicated their intention to participate in the election and have already served the mandatory notices for their primaries to elect their candidates as required by law. The Commission’s preparation for the three off-cycles elections is one of the issues for discussion at this meeting.

“In addition to the end of tenure elections, six bye-elections are scheduled to hold on Saturday 26th February 2022 in Cross River, Imo, Ondo and Plateau States. The detailed Timetable is already uploaded on our website and social media platforms. Hard copies are also included in your folders for this meeting.

“However three bye-elections are still pending. You may recall that the Commission suspended Ekiti East I State Constituency bye-election in March 2020 following its violent disruption by thugs. The election will now be combined with the State Governorship election holding on 18th June 2022. The date for the Shinkafi State Constituency bye-election in Zamfara State will be announced after a thorough review of the security situation in the area, while the Commission awaits the declaration of vacancy by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in respect of Giwa West State Constituency.

“Some of the critical preparations for the 2023 General Election must be concluded this year. For instance, the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) which commenced in June last year has entered the third quarter. As at Monday 17th January 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration; completed the registration physically; applied for transfer to new voting locations; requested for replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs); and updated their voter information records.

“The Commission has been publishing weekly progress reports of the exercise, including analysis of the distribution of online and completed registration by age group, occupation, gender and disability. Since the exercise commenced in June last year, the Commission has so far published 36 weekly reports which show a consistent pattern of young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34 constituting the largest majority of registrants.

“In terms of occupation, students constitute the largest majority of registrants which is consistent with the dominance of young Nigerians as voters. There is a lot of information for public enlightenment and sensitization. We seek for the support of media organisations in this regard.

“Related to the issue of voter registration is the issuance of PVCs. We are aware that Nigerians want to know when their PVCs will be available for collection. We appreciate the role of media organisations in encouraging and mobilizing eligible Nigerians who have not registered to do so” he noted.

Professor Mahmood continued to enjoined the Media to continue to sensitise members of the public that those who had registered at any time previously need not register again.

He said for those who have completed the registration, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive cleaning up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.

“We will share our findings with Nigerians very soon. The actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will also be announced very soon” lNEC Chairman said.

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