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INEC’s new polling units, a coup against the South –Ekwueme, Clark, Afenifere

By News Express on 10/09/2014

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The creation of over 30,000 additional polling units by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday received knocks from Yoruba group, Afenifere, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and Bishop Emmanuel Gbonigi.

Afenifere rose from its meeting held in Akure, Ondo State capital, rejecting the new units, saying the allocation of 21,000 units to the North is condemnable. They were created by INEC last month.

Southern Nigeria People’s Assembly (SNPA) also rejected the allocation.

Clark, South-South leader, Ekwueme, leader of the South-East, and Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi, Chairman, Yoruba Unity Forum, all spoke against the allocation of polling units which they said was skewed against the South.

According to them, the 21,615 units allocated to the North while the 8,412 to the South was unacceptable.

They met under the umbrella of Leaders of the Joint Meeting of the Elders Council and Management Committee of the SNPA.

Clark said the arbitrary allocation of the polling units was against the new spirit reached at the just-concluded National Conference.

The South-South leader, in rejecting the figure, said the allocation where the figures allocated to the three regions in the North were far more than what was allocated to the three regions in the South, was an attempt to manipulate and rig the 2015 general elections.

Bishop Gbonigi, who is also co-chair of the group, said the electoral body’s decision to allocate more additional polling units to the North lacks any logic or wisdom.

Gbonigi said that the South-West rejects the allocation and therefore, called for immediate withdrawal of the “offensive proposal”.

Ekwueme also noted that it was necessary for the group to make the position of the Southern region clear. He also suggested that the group seeks an audience with INEC to get their explanation on the issue.

Clark, who is the co-ordinating Chairman of SNPA, in his opening remarks, noted that the allocation was more of a political conspiracy by INEC against Southern Nigeria.

He stressed that allocation of additional polling units to parts of the North especially in the North-East states of Borno, Bauchi and Adamawa, was unacceptable to the leadership of the SNPA.

He said: “We view with restraint worries the significant differences between the number of new polling units allocated to the whole of the Southern Zones (South-West: 4,160, South-South: 3,087 and South-East: 1,167) a total of 8,414 which is less than the figure of the North-West alone (7,906) added to the FCT (1,120) totalling 9,026.

“Or even moreso the number allocated to the South-South zone (3,087), which is less than half of those allotted to the North-West zone. Then, that of the South-East (1,167) which is less than a quarter of any of the Northern zones (North-West: 7,906, North-East: 5,291, and the North-Central: 6,318.”

Bishop Gbonigi, who was represented by Senator Femi Okurounmu, said that INEC’s decision to allocate more additional polling stations to the North lacks any logic or wisdom particularly with lower voter turn-out at previous elections and the massive exodus of citizens from many of the troubled parts of the North.

“The commission has exceeded its mandate by restructuring the number of polling units nationwide,” he said.

Afenifere’s position was part of the communique issued after a meeting held in Akure, Ondo State.

The parley, hosted by Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, was attended by chieftains and members from Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Lagos states.

Reading the communique, the Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the organisation was disturbed by the action of INEC, a few months to the elections.

According to Afenifere, the distribution of newly-created polling units was more disturbing and clearly showed the determination of INEC to sustain permanent dominance of the North on election matters.

The organisation condemned the distribution of the additional polling units where the North alone was allocated 21,000 and entire South including the populous South-West, got a paltry 8,000. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was allocated 1,200.

It condemned the allocation of 7,906 to the North-West alone; 5,291 units to the war ravaged North-East, whereas the South-East was given 1,167 units and South-West with only 4,160.

The communique reads: “Afenifere hereby passes vote of no confidence on the ability of the Prof. Attahiru Jega-led INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections if those polling units are sustained. We viewed the creation of the new units as attempts to create rigging of the election at the source.”

•Source: Daily Sun. Photo shows INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega.

Source News Express

Posted 10/09/2014 10:37:45 AM


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