The Senate on Tuesday vowed to overrule the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to create additional 30,000 polling units across the country, if the agency failed to heed its advice to stop the exercise.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Andy Uba, who stated this in an interview with journalists, said the idea behind the creation of additional PUs was good but the timing was wrong.
He said, “We have sent a letter to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, and we expressed our reservations over the planned creation of additional polling units across the country.
“What he is doing is good but the timing is wrong. We are close to an election year and we have so many displaced people in the north-eastern part of the country. So, where will the INEC put the new polling units?
“If they (INEC) continue with it (creation of new polling centres), we will pass a resolution to overrule it. It is simple. And once we pass our resolution, is he going to go ahead, saying that he doesn’t care?
“There are consequences when you say you don’t care, that is what it is, but I know he (Jega) is a gentle man and he is a man that keeps to his words. We had a meeting and (we) had sent him a letter.
“He should know that his integrity, from what people are saying, is at stake. However, that it is not our business. And I believe that there is nothing he has in mind against anybody or anything”.
The senator, who noted that the exercise would go a long way to solve the problems which voters usually experience at polling centres, however, stressed that the bone of contention his committee has with INEC was the timing.
He said, “There are over 4,000 registered voters in Wuse 2 in Abuja, for instance, and you know the inconvenience when 4,000 people are expected to queue up in line. It is not possible for all of them to be accredited before voting would start. Many people will come and would be turned back.
“It (the exercise) is a good idea but the timing is wrong; that is all we are saying. Nobody is saying what they did was wrong. Some people are saying there is ulterior motive. There is no ulterior motive in it; that is not the issue.
“INEC needs time to educate people to let them know that their names have been moved to a different polling unit, but it is a good idea because it will decongest these polling units. Five hundred names each, it makes things work faster.
“When you come in, you will get accredited; then you will vote and go but when you have 4,000 names in a centre; that is a problem”.
Uba nonetheless expressed optimism that the Electoral Act Amendment would be concluded as soon as the Senate resumes from its current Sallah break.
He said, “We are working on it and I am sure the Deputy Senate President, who is the Chairman of that Joint Conference Committee, had said that by the time we come back, we should be able to finish what we are doing”.