With the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) contemplating the establishment of special polling units for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North-east, the Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), the youth wing of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has demanded such facilities to be set up for Igbos and other southerners fleeing Boko Haram insurgency.
Thousands of Igbos resident in the troubled North-east of the country who fled home stand the risk of being disenfranchised having been registered in their former places of residence before relocating.
The National President of OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, told journalists in Umuahia on Wednesday that the group was worried about the discriminatory nature of the planned special polling units, saying that it should equally be extended to Igbos displaced from the North-east.
He argued that the existence of IDPs was not confined to the North as those fleeing the insurgency and returned to their states of origin deserve to be given special treatment in the voting arrangement just like those the IDPs in the North.
“Ndigbo will not accept this latest plot by Jega and his team to disenfranchise Igbo returnees who have been forced to flee from their place of residence by Boko Haram for no fault of theirs,” he said. According to Isinguzoro disenfranchisement of the returnee easterners in particular and southerners in general would work against the electoral fortunes of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Ohanaeze youths leader called on the federal government “to closely monitor the activities of Jega to avoid derailing the current democracy through some ill- advised and jaundiced policies”, saying that the plan was aimed at giving the North undue electoral advantage over the South.
He said INEC and its chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, should be told point blank that “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander” hence the electoral body must be compelled to establish special polling units in the southern part of the country for those fleeing insurgency from the North.
The OYC president alleged that “Jega by his actions so far has shown he is biased and not ready for a credible 2015 election” otherwise he won’t be creating special polling booths for IDPs in the North without considering those fleeing from the war zones to their home states.
OYC therefore, gave Jega a seven- day ultimatum to correct the imbalance or resign, saying that the INEC boss had been involved in a lot of controversial policies in the recent times.