National Assembly to support INEC for 2019 election

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

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The Nigerian National Assembly has reiterated its commitment to support the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to achieve a hitch free election in 2019.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Electoral Matters, Senator Muhammad Nazif stated this during the committee’s meeting with INEC in Abuja, on Wednesday.

Senator Nazif said that the committee’s members had agreed to suspend their annual recess to discuss the issues for the interest of Nigerians.

He said: “We are committed to the plight of the people. We will always do what is in the interest of Nigerians.

“The National Assembly is seriously committed to ensuring that  we give all the necessary support to INEC to ensure free and fair election in 2019 and we assure that the necessary budget allocation be given to INEC.”

In his presentation, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, explained that the approved 2018 budget was for regular activities of the commission while the N189.2b was for the forth-coming General election.

Professor Yakubu, who acknowledged that this was the first time the Commission was defending the elections budget, said out of the total sum, N4.6 billion naira was proposed for contingencies which represent 2.5% of the budget instead of the usual 10%.

He also explained: “The increase in the election funding over the 2015 was based on 91 political parties, which will participate in the 2019 general election, while over 80 million voters have so far been registered for 2019 general elections and we are still counting.”

At a similar meeting earlier with the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters has Chairperson of the committee, Hajiya Aisha Jibrin Dukku explained that the House of Representatives is committed to strengthen the nation’s electoral process as well as support INEC to conduct a free, fair and credible general election.

Members of the two committee, however, demanded for clarification from the Electoral Chief on the reported duplication of some items already approved in the 45.5 billion naira 2018 budget of the commission.

The members who also raised concerns on the huge sum of 189.2 billion naira proposed to conduct the 2019 General Election, tasked INEC on accountability and transparency in utilizing the funds for the 2019 general elections.

The meeting is expected to continue on Thursday.

The separate meetings of the Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Electoral Matters is to pave way for a Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters and officials of the INEC that will provide reports for presentation in the two chambers.

Omolayo.A