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Anxiety Over 2019 Election Budget

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In this report, SUNDAY ISUWA writes on anxiety over the yet-to-be approved 2019 general elections budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has forwarded a total sum of about N189.8 billion to the presidency as its estimate for the 2019 general elections. It was gathered that the INEC budget was part of over N240 billion President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the National Assembly as an estimation of what Nigeria will spend on some security agencies and the electoral umpire in 2019. The budget is yet-to-be approve d by both chambers of the national assembly, thereby causing so much anxiety by Nigerians on the preparations for the 2019 general elections. The Summary of the 2019 general elections budget indicated that N134,427,868,157.50 (N134.4bn) is for election operational cost, N27,503,970,680.00 (N27.5bn) for cost of election technology, N22,660,887,887.50 (N22.6bn) for election administrative cost, while N4,614,818,168.13 (N4.6bn) is for miscellaneous. LEADERSHIP reports that a total sum of N32,244,683,734.59 (N32.2bn) has also been budgeted for the 2019 stand alone presidential election. INEC will conduct elections into 1,558 constituencies across the country starting with 1 Presidential Constituency, 109 Senatorial, 360 Federal Constituencies, 991 State Constituencies, and 29 State governorship elections. The 2019 general election is coinciding with the Area Council Elections in the FCT, which has pushed INEC to prepare for the conduct of 68 elections in the FCT in addition to other constituencies. “We had a little over 40 political parties in 2015 but as at today we have over 91 political parties in Nigeria and we are still considering applications from 140 associations for registration,”

INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said while defending the budget. Yakubu, while interacting with both committees that oversee the affairs of the commission in the National Assembly, said if half of the political parties field candidates, INEC will have to process a total of 70,809 nomination forms for the election. According to him, if all the 91 political parties present candidates for all the constituencies, INEC will process over 144,000 applications for the election. “So it is really a huge task for the commission,” Yakubu said, acknowledging the huge burden they have ahead of the 2019 general elections. While there is serious anxiety by some Nigerians over the delay in approving INEC’s N189.8billion budget, it was further gathered that INEC already has a lot of issues to contain with. “Regarding the anxiety over the funds required by INEC, it is clear that there is a way out,” a political analyst, Kudla M Satumari said. Kudla, who is vying for the Southern Borno Senatorial seat in 2019, said if Nigerians put politics aside, INEC will give Nigerians what they want. “If the powers that be put politics aside and focus on national interest, there will be a way out of the delay in the budget approval, “ Kudla added. “The budget submitted by INEC has many grey areas,” a political pundit, Boladale Adekoya said. According to him the INEC’S N189.8 billion needs to be properly investigated. “We have heard of N6billion naira being budgeted to feed security officials while at the same time the same officials will be entitled to special allowances,” Adekoya said.

LEADERSHIP reports that the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu had earlier dispelled a report suggesting the commission will spent N6 billion for the feeding of Police personnel. But Adekoya said for the fact that the budget is coming from INEC doesn’t mean it is immune to statutory legislative scrutiny. “I think the major blame should be on the Presidency who waited this long to submit such a crucial budget six months to the election,” Adekoya said, adding that, “INEC could have done that since the beginning of the year,” Adekoya added. “It would be resolved,” chairman, United Peoples Congress (UPC), Kenneth Ibe-Kalu said, referring to the anxiety by Nigerians over the delay in approving INEC’s N189.8billion budget. Ibe-Kalu said their political party is out to deal with deficiency in governance since according to him, Nigeria’s democratic practice is built in a faulty foundation. “So many political parties in Nigeria have a lot of anti-democratic tendencies. They give few individual ownership of political parties which breeds corruption,” Ibe-Kalu said. According to Ibe-Kalu, their political party conducted a research and came up with a resolution that strong institutions should be promoted. “I am not the head of UPC because I want to be the chairman of a political party. I am the head because I want to change the face of democracy in Nigeria.” “I have no problem with the number of political parties that we have in Nigeria. We can have more than 200 is the right of Nigeria to get political parties and nobody can limit that right.” “Talking about conduct of elections, that is operational and technical issue. Why do we have INEC. It their duty to modernise voting. It their duty to introduce electronic voting. With electronic voting, how many minutes will it take you to vote? Nigeria should catch up with modernization. This are the issue causing the anxiety and not necessarily delay in election budget approval. However, with the commencement of work on the budget by the NASS committees, Nigerians are hopeful that the budget will be ready soon so as not to put the much awaited poll in jeopardy.



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