Election monitoring groups in the country have expressed concern over the continuous delay in the passage of the election budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying such could jeopardize adequate preparations for the 2019 poll.
The Group in a communiqué issued at the end of a one day round table on the election budget impasse organised by the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG), therefore urged the National Assembly to as a matter of national and public interest pass the INEC budget, just as it called for an end to all forms of intrigues and politics associated with the budget.
The communique was jointly signed by the ISDMG executive director, Dr Chima Amadi; Faith Nwadishi Centre for Transparency Advocacy; Abdul Mahmud, Public Interest Lawyers League;
Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice;
Okechukwu Nwanguma NOPRIN;
Ezenwa Nwagwu Partners for Electoral Reforms and a host of other election observer groups .
The group while addressing concerns regarding some allocations in the budget, noted that such angst on some of the budget amount and line items are unfounded. It stated that for instance such amount as the claim of ₦6 billion provision for feeding of policemen during the election period and N700 million for foreign observers are false as there are no such provision in the budget at all.
Accordingly, it stated that what the budget item has is ₦4.6b (exactly ₦4, 689,996,100.00) for feeding allowance paid to security and election personnel.
Addressing the feeding line item specifically, the communique stated that, “What the budget item has is ₦4.6b (exactly ₦4, 689,996,100.00) for feeding allowance paid to security and election personnel at N1, 000 per head for two days ( 2x 1000=2000) and is fully explained and justified in line 26 of the budget proposal.
“We note that ₦1,000 is a token allowance per official for 2 elections (Presidential and NASS on February 16 and Gubernatorial and State Assembly and FCT Area Councils on 2nd March)
It covers the 180,000 polling units and voting points, 8809 ward collation centers, and 1558 constituency collation centers involving over a million personnel for two elections including provisions for possible run-off elections.
“That Ad hoc staff alone is about 1.3m, and does not include INEC main staff, police, DSS, Civil Defence, Soldiers among others. This is not the first time it is done and is without prejudice to the duty tour allowance for all security personnel handled through their various agencies. Nigerians have forgotten that the immediate former Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had to defend a similar provision before the 2015 General Elections”
They explained that Nigerians may not be aware of some of the details in the budget because this is the first time ever that the details of election budget is submitted to NASS, defended by INEC and open to scrutiny by citizens.
The monitoring groups stated that inaccurate, sensational reportage and deliberate promotion of falsehood by a section of the media has helped in no small way to aggravate this logjam.
The meeting commended the openness of the budget process and urge INEC to continue with this practice.
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