2019 Polls: Electoral Commission makes clarification on budget

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his team of Commissioners in a 2019 General Elections budget defense meeting with the Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral & Political parties matters at the National Assembly for the second time

Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has made clarifications on its budget for 2019 General Election, saying that the figure it presented was N189.2 and not N264 billion as widely reported.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yaqoub, made the clarification while speaking with State House correspondents on Friday.

He said: “the commission requested for N189.2 billion, that is what the executive proposed to the National Assembly, so there are no discrepancies in the figures at all.”

“Secondly, also for the very first time in the history of our country, that citizens know the budget of the electoral commission, that budget has never been defended before the National Assembly, as citizens know line by line how much the commission proposed l, what the money is going to be spent on, I think I am very happy with this process.”

The INEC boss also said that there is no provision for election observers in the budget for the 2019 General Election.

He said: “There is no line in the budget for international observers. What we are provided for are the kits, you know the jackets, caps, publication, that we give to international observers, the stickers that are fixed on their cars to be identified on Election Day.”

“This is the standard practice. Each country that organizes elections provide these facilities for those who monitor elections. But their accommodation, transportation will be born by various election monitoring groups and not by the Nigerian government.”

On fears that the 2019 General Election might be postponed following delays in the passage of budget for it, Yaqoub said “there are no conditions under which elections should be postponed.”

He said: “Under section 26 of the Electoral Act, the date is formed and fixed, February 16, 2019. We issued the timetable way in advance for the very first time in the history of our nation, citizens of Nigeria know when elections will take place one year in advance. It has never happen before.”

Over 80 million to vote in 2019

Professor Yaqoub said over 80 million Nigerians have been registered as the country goes into the 2019 General Election.

He said: “We have voters register of over 80 million citizens. As at Saturday last week the 11th of August, we have registered 12.1 million this will eventually be added to the 70 million voters that is already registered for the 2019 general elections.”

“We started the continuous voters registration exercise on 27th April 2017, so we have been, as provided for in our constitution, registering voters consistently in the last 16 months.”

“In response to appeal by Nigerians, we have created more centers for the registration but finally decided that we should suspended the process as provided for by the law, six months to the elections. But gain in response to appeal by Nigerians we have now extended to the end of the month.”

He said registration would continue until August 31, while collection of Permanent Voter Cards would continue until one week to the general election.