Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (AP) were yet to submit the report of the expenses they incurred during the 2019 general elections.
The major political parties reportedly spent N4.6billion, N3.3billion on billboards, print media advertisements, electronic media advertisements, and coverage/grammies (musical performances) during the polls.
The director, Election and Party Monitoring Department, INEC, Aminu Idris, who disclosed this at a two-day capacity-building workshop for INEC Press Corps in Lagos yesterday, said out of the 91 political parties that participated in the 2019 polls, about 34 submitted reports (both expenditures and incomes).
Idris said in the list of the 34 political parties that submitted reports for the 2019 election, the major parties were not among them.
During the general election, he said the commission tracked election expenses and “we have a report of that. In 2023, we will go through this process.
“Last week, we trained auditors and financial secretaries of political parties on the forms for reporting election expenses.
“The commission has designed forms to assist political parties in reporting election expenses.
“One of the forms is EC 16D which records contributions and incomes for political parties and candidates. Another one is EC 16C which records expenditures. It assists political parties to record as required by law.”
He said the parties are required to bring their expenses and income records between the third and sixth months.
“We have done the training and given the forms and we are also tracking on our own so that we can produce our own report as we did in 2019.
“The commission tracks expenditure for the general election. In the last report we did, we had some figures from the presidential election of the two major parties.
“We remember that then, the maximum limit was N1 billion, and what we had based on our tracking across the country were N4.6billion and N3.3billion. What we tracked were about four items namely billboards, print media advertisements, electronic media advertisements and coverage/grammies.
“Talking about auditing of political parties, in 2019 election based on requirements for reporting, 91 political parties participated and about 34 submitted reports (both expenditures and incomes).”
Even among the 34 parties, he said there were issues of compliance as the requirement was that political parties are to submit reports with affidavits.
“What we found out was that out of the 34 parties, only about nine complied in terms of submission with an affidavit.
“In terms of audit of parties, the Commission is already in the process of auditing the accounts of political parties in the last five years; 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Auditors are already out with parties right now doing auditing them and will report back to the commission.
“In the list of the 34 political parties that submitted a report for the 2019 election, the major parties were not among them,” he said.
Section 89 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 stipulates that election expenses of a political party shall be submitted to the Commission in a separate audited return within six months after the election and such return shall be signed by the political party’s auditors and countersigned by the chairman of the party and be supported by a sworn affidavit by the signatories as to the correctness of its contents.
“(4) A political party which contravenes subsection (3) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N1,000,000 and in the case of failure to submit an accurate audited return within the stipulated period, the court may impose a maximum penalty of N200,000.00 per day on any party for the period after the return was due until it is submitted to the Commission,” it further stated.
Also, the director-general of the Electoral Institute, Sa’ad Idris, said the training of poll officials towards the conduct of the 2023 general election is one of the critical pre-election activities that must be tackled with utmost tact and commitment.
He said that the Commission is expected to train about 1.4 million adhoc staff who will officiate at the 2023 general elections, comprising security officers.
“The institute, I can assure you, is poised to play its role to ensure that all adhoc staff are effectively and qualitatively trained.
“The commission’s goal to deliver a free, fair, credible, and inclusive election in 2023 is achievable by devotion, action, purposefulness, commitment, and patriotism on the part of the Commission and every stakeholder,” he said.
On her part, Oluwatoyin Babalola, director of legal drafting and clearance in INEC said the Electoral Act, 2022 is a laudable effort to bring the Nigerian electoral process up to standard with countries all over the world and meet the aspirations of Nigerians.
She said the provisions of the Act will guarantee the delivery of free, fair, transparent and credible elections which will in turn increase the acceptance of the electoral processes and outcomes in the 2023 General Election and beyond.
Most importantly, she said INEC will continue to evolve and improve on the electoral process vis-a-vis international best practices and electoral legal framework in its quest for credible elections.
“There is no gainsaying that credible elections remain the bedrock of democracy all over the world and the heart of democratic representation. The success or otherwise of any democracy is largely dependent on how elections are conducted.
“There is a nexus between credible elections and political stability, economic prosperity, and a balanced social space. The absence of which stifles economic prosperity, and inhibits political and social stability.
“Credible elections are assessed based on their integrity, inclusivity, accountability, transparency, and competitiveness,” she added.