Exactly 91 days to the start of the 2019 polls, beginning with elections into the presidential and the National Assembly seats, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that it has no problem of access to funds to prosecute the elections.
INEC dismissed insinuations that it might be facing challenges of time and resources.
It has, therefore, placed orders for sensitive and non-sensitive materials, which include ballot boxes, ballot papers, results sheets, results posters, security printers and other important documents.
Even though the National Assembly recently approved about N189.8 billion to be released to INEC for the conduct of the elections, LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the commission started its preparations long before the approval.
It was gathered that as an agency of government backed by law, INEC has the power to approach the federation account and withdraw money it needs for its operations.
This, it was learnt, is helping tremendously in the 2019 polls preparations.
While some Nigerians were worried that the late approval of the INEC budget could affect the electoral umpire’s preparations for next year’s elections, the commission said there is no cause for concern.
Officials at INEC said they began their preparations for the 2019 general elections immediately after the 2015 polls, adding that with the approval of its budget, it can approach the federation account at any time to get funding for the election project.
LEADERSHIP reliably gathered that INEC had placed order for the purchase of both sensitive and non-sensitive materials.
“Funding for the 2019 general elections is not a problem because election money comes from the federation account,” INEC’s national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education, Barr Festus Okoye, said.
“We started preparing for the 2019 general elections a long time ago and issues that border on procurements are being handled by experts,” Okoye said, confirming that the commission have made orders for sensitive and non-sensitive materials to be used for the 2019 general elections.
“INEC has money to carry out its projects, programmes, processes and procedures,” he said, referring to the privilege of the commission to get money directly from the federation account at any time.
“INEC is one of the federal government agencies that can withdraw money from the federation account so long as we have a need. We can withdraw money from the federation account and we’ve been withdrawing to fund the election projects,” Okoye said.
On whether INEC had placed orders for election materials, Okoye said: “Yes, for those that were advertised. We have ordered for sensitive and non-sensitive materials. We’ve ordered for security printers and we have been inspecting them.
He added that the commission was going to ensure that both the sensitive and the non-sensitive materials arrived in the country safely and on time for the polls.
“Orders have been made and they will arrive on time,” Okoye said, assuring that the electoral umpire was on track.
“It is not the first time INEC will be conducting election. For the non-sensitive materials like ballot boxes, there are some that are good to be used in 2019 but the ones that are bad would be replaced,” Okoye said.
According to him, the commission was making effort to avoid shortages.
“For sensitive materials, it’s a matter of national security,” Okoye said while explaining the secrecy surrounding the procurement of such items.