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INEC Boss: Nigerian elites to blame for poor voter turnout

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has decried voter apathy among the elite in the country, adducing it as one of the reasons for poor voter turnout in elections. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a quarterly meeting with media executives on Friday, said voter apathy is more experienced in urban centres than rural areas. Yakubu, who gave a statistics of the 593 polling units in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with zero voters, said the majority is in Bwari and Abuja Municipality Area Councils.

“We don’t have problem with rural areas, we have problem with urban centres,” the INEC Chairman stated. According to him, out of the 593 polling units, 469 are in AMAC alone, while 78 are in Bwari. AMAC is Abuja city centre where a majority of big men live, while Bwari houses the Nigeria Law School and the headquarters of the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB). He explained that the polling units were empty; “because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new polling units.” Yakubu further stated that voter turnout in the 2016 Abuja Area Council election was just 10 per cent, and appealed to the media to help in voter’s sensitisation in the February 12 election.

“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 to polling units across the country,” he charged. The INEC chairman, however, assured that no electoral material and result sheet would be allocated to the 593 polling units without voters in this year’s area council poll, and warned those planning to use the polling units to rig the election to perish the idea.

He also disclosed that the commission recorded over 14,000 double registrants in the territory in the ongoing continuous voter registration (CVR), but said their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) would not be printed. On the registration of political parties, the INEC chairman said the commission has received over 100 applications from associations wishing to be registered.

He disclosed that one person applied to register six political associations while another wrote to the commission without any identifiable address. “At the moment, we have 18 registered political parties in the country,” Yakubu stated.

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