Daily Watch – INEC to decongest crowded polling units, Mobile transactions spike in January

13th February 2023

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday said overcrowded polling units will be decongested to smaller polling units in the same location on election day. According to INEC, the decongestion will ease voting processes. The commission said the list of registered voters in the 176,846 polling units would be displayed, urging eligible voters to confirm their location on the day of the election. The announcement read “The Independent National Electoral Commission in the exercise of its powers under Section 40(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 has allotted voters from overcrowded polling units to less congested polling units within the same location to promote a more pleasant and stress-free voting experience on Election Day.”

Data released by the Nigeria interbank settlement system (NIBSS) showed that the volume of transactions performed electronically by Nigerians surged 55 percent in January 2023. Analysis by BusinessDay indicates that the number of NIBSS instant payment (NIP) users increased to 541 million in January 2023 from 348 million in January 2022, highlighting the growing trend toward a cashless society. In value, the industry data reported ₦38.7 trillion in January this year and a 45 percent rise from ₦26.6 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of last year. Further analysis of the data showed that payments made through the point-of-sale (POS) in terms of volume increased to 96 million, a six percent surge from 90 million recorded in the periods under review. At the same time, the value of transactions also showed significant growth of ₦807 billion in January from the ₦573 billion reported in January 2022, representing a 98 percent rise in its value. Following the same trend, the volume of mobile transactions increased by 237 percent to 108 million in January 2023, from 32 million in January 2022. Its value also rose by 124.8 percent to ₦2.4 trillion from ₦1.1 trillion in the period under review as reported in the industry data.

Criminals in northern Ghana tried to blow up a bridge for the first time in the Bawku region, where the government fears a violent spillover from a jihadist war across the border in Burkina Faso, a top official said. Ghana’s Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, told Parliament last week “the threat of terrorism hanging around Ghana through the corridors of Bawku is real.” “So, the security agencies are working within Bawku and its precincts with the mindset that if we do not stop what is happening in Bawku now, we risk the situation where Ghana can be thrown under terrorist attacks,” he added. “What is happening today is not about chieftaincy. It is criminality. Those operating are criminals,” the minister said. He did not identify the suspected criminal elements; however, he noted that troop presence in Bawku had increased from 50 soldiers to 400 and another 500-strong military task force was being dispatched to the region.

At least ten soldiers died in an ambush in southwestern Niger close to the border with Mali by a group described as “armed terrorists.” Government sources say the death toll from Friday’s attack is expected to rise, as 16 people are still missing and others were wounded. The troops were on patrol in the north of Banibangou department when they faced an assault by rebels described as a jihadist group. Last week, armed groups stormed a camp in the Tahoua area, housing refugees from neighbouring Mali. Nine people were killed in the attack. On Saturday evening, France “condemned in the strongest possible terms the attack that left ten dead”. France is supporting Niger in its Almahaou operation to secure the border with Mali, with 250 soldiers in a “combat partnership”.