14 February 2019

Nigeria: Gwarimpa Residents Worry Over Proximity to Polling Units

Residents of Gwarimpa, Abuja's largest estate, have expressed concern over proximity to polling units where they would cast their votes on Saturday.

The estate, originally containing 5000 housing units, was built by late General Sani Abacha administration. But now hundred of other houses have sprung up in the estate.

The originally planned residential estate has turned into a commercial hub as several banks, shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants and business centres have sprung up on its 3rd, 2nd and 1st avenues.

Thus the estate is densely populated, raising the need for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delineate more voting points to ease polls on Saturday.

Gwarimpa is one of the 12 wards in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) with CITTEC, Adkan, FHA, Sahara, War College and Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Estate, all housed there.

A taxi driver, Elijah Madu, said it could cost more than N700 to get to some estates within Gwarimpa. Madu who has lived in Gwarimpa for more than 10 years, said since movement will be restricted on election day, some residents could find it difficult getting to the polling units where they registered.

Madu, however, said he registered at the Gwarimpa Primary School near his house so he will walk there to vote on Saturday.

"I am ready to stay on queue from morning till whenever it gets to my turn to vote," he said, adding that the usual large turnout of people at the polling unit would not deter him from carrying out his civic responsibility.

Another resident, Abidemi Adeleye, who resides at 35 Road, Third Avenue, said she would not be able to vote as she was registered at a polling unit on Wole Soyinka Avenue close to Setraco Gate. She said the polling unit is about seven minutes' drive from her house and trekking there could take more than 30 minutes.

"Since I can't move freely on that day and trekking is not an option, I have decided to stay at home," she said adding that 2019 would be her first time of voting should she find a means of getting to the polling unit.

But Mrs Dina Okai, who resides in War College after Mr Biggs on Third Avenue, said her polling unit at Gwarimpa Primary School, is within trekking distance as such voting on Saturday would be easy for her.

"I transferred my PVC from my husband's village to Abuja and collected it at Life Camp Secondary School but indicated that I want a polling unit in Gwarimpa," she said.

She was not sure where she would cast her ballot that day but she hoped it would be at the nearest polling unit to her at Gwarimpa Primary School and not as far as Setraco Gate.

"I will try to be at Gwarimpa Primary School very early because there is likely to be a large turnout of people," she said.

The FCT Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has however, said that there was no plan to create additional polling units in Gwarimpa or other locations in the territory.

He told our reporter, yesterday, in Abuja that there are 225 polling units, 115 voting points, and 1,401 voting settlements in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).

"There is no plan to create any polling unit or anywhere," he stated.

A top official of INEC FCT office, who pleaded anonymity, for operational reasons, said while there was no plan to create additional polling units, the commission could create voting points in a particular unit with large proportion of registered voters.

"For example, if you have a polling unit XYZ with over 5000 registered voters, we will create voting points in the same unit by making it less than 1000 for each voting point in the same unit for administrative efficiency. You cannot imagine 5000 voters lining up in a particular polling unit. So we are breaking it down through voting points," the official said.

He however said Gwarimpa was not the largest ward in the FCT.

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