Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega yesterday said that the commission would require N102bn to conduct the 2015 electionsHe said only N45bn was presented to the National Assembly by the Budget Office, which is not even enough to procure electoral materials.
He stated this while delivering a lecture on, “Challenges of Fraud-free Elections under a Democratic Dispensation” organised by the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation.
Jega said: “As I speak with you, when we saw the budget of N45bn and were asked to now provide the details of how N45bn can be spent: we were at a fix. In our engagement with the relevant authorities, we said, “Look N45bn is not even sufficient for us to do necessary procurements between now and say November and to pay salaries and other entitlements of staff because all those are parts of this N45bn.
“The procurement for purely electoral materials and electoral activities alone outside of payment of allowances is more than N45bn. So how can you get N45bn for the entire exercise? Like I said to you, when we had discussion with the Budget Office, we submitted the budget of N102bn and yet N45bn is what is submitted for us. We hope our engagement with government and the National Assembly will provide more funding for us to be able to do a good job”.
Jega recalled that in 2011, the National Assembly and the executive saw the need to provide appropriate funding to achieve the successes recorded in that election, saying it was adjudged the best election ever conducted in this country.
“We have to engage ad-hoc staff, we have to pay them allowances, we have to transport them or give them transport allowance, we have to provide allowance to security agencies, we have to procure ballot papers with security details and we also have to procure result sheet in addition to ballot papers and ballot boxes and all those non-sensitive materials that are required to hold elections”, he added.
Speaking earlier, Speaker, House of Representatives, Waziri Tambuwal promised that the National Assembly would ensure INEC got what it required to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2015.
Tambuwal said, “What was presented before us as the total sum required by INEC according to the budget office is N45bn whereas INEC itself is requesting about N63.8bn for the proper conduct of that election. This is what INEC is seeking for to conduct a free, fair and credible election. We have before us the proposal of N45bn instead of N63.8bn.
Therefore, there is a deficit of about N19bn. Unless and until we are able to meet up and give INEC as a government what is required, then we are about preparing…don’t read my body language.
“The 2015 elections are by the corner and already there is so much talk about how the conduct of that election can make or mar not only our democracy but our unity. Let me say here that the unity of this country does not depend on the outcome of any election. We have moved past that. Since 1999, it seems that every time we have an election coming, politicians and ethnic jingoists overheat the polity unnecessarily and cause a lot of tension and fear in the land. We must stop seeing everything as the end of our union,” he said. [The Sun]