Lawmakers Consider INEC’s N189.2b Elections Budget
Work has begun on the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 elections.
INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu yesterday defended the commission’s N189.2 billion budget at separate sessions with the Senate’s and House of Representatives’ committees on INEC.
Yakubu, who gave a breakdown of the various components of the budget, told the lawmakers that preparations for the poll ought to have started by August 15 (yesterday).
Documents submitted to the lawmakers by INEC indicated that election operational cost will cost N134.4bn; technology -N27.5bn; administrative cost -N22.6bn; and miscellaneous -N4.6bn.
The INEC chair spoke of significant increase in the variables and logistics for the 2019 elections as against the 2015 polls that cost N120 billion.
According to him, the commission will be conducting elections with about 91 political parties on the ballot. There are over 82 million registered voters.
The voter population in 2015 was about 70 million, with about 40 political parties on the ballot.
Yakubu said the figures could rise in the months ahead, as the commission still had 140 applications for party registration still pending; the voter registration has been extended by two weeks to end August 30.
INEC will conduct the presidential and National Assembly elections in February. They will be followed by governorship elections in 29 states, alongside state assembly election in the 36 states.
Also included in the budget is the cost of conducting elections into the six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as the expiration of the tenure of the elected officials coincides with the general elections.
Also captured in the INEC budget is the Osun State governorship election coming up on September 22. The INEC chair said 48 political parties will participate in the Osun election.
The Total cost for 2019 polls is N242, 445b, made up as follows: INEC to receive N189.207b, ONSA to get N4.2b, DSS to receive N12.213 b, NSCDC to get N3.573 b, NIS to get N2.628 b, Police to get N30.541 b.
A breakdown of the police budget is: Police dogs N166,315m, Dogs’ medical/ general expenses N143,782m and 50 Polie horses’ feeding N7,719.4m.
The chairman of the Senate committee, Suleiman Nazif, assured INEC of the legislature’s desire to expedite action on the budget, considering the time constraint.
Nazif said the committee members will meet again today through Friday to fast track the process and refer the documents to the Appropriation Committee of the Senate.
The chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on INEC, Mrs. Aisha Dukku, stressed the need for the parliament to approach the budget proposal from both process and content perspectives.
Dukku told Yakubu: “It is only by so doing that one can begin to unravel the intricacies of the entire range of issues involved and their interconnectedness.
“You will agree with me that for a government that promised change for its people, the foundation of this change ought to be evident in the way we plan our elections and electoral processes.
“The estimates should represent a true picture of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).”
She expressed concern over INEC’s previous budgets, saying they were neither productive nor effective because of poor planning.”
“It is my prayer and hope that the present administration would address the issues with budgeting, especially as regards funding; unlike the previous budgets that were not productive in the entire planning of elections,” Dukku added.