The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, told the National Assembly yesterday that it needed N305billion in expected expenditures for the general elections in 2023.
During his appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated that N100 billion out of the N305 billion intended for the commission had already been released, leaving a shortfall of N205 billion.
Senate appropriations bill for 2022 will be debated and passed today, according to Senate aides.
The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) will lay its report on the 2022 Appropriation Bill today (Tuesday), and “It will be discussed and passed by the Senate on the same day,” according to Senator Jibrin, who spoke with press following the budget session with INEC on yesterday.
INEC halted the Ekiti East by-election indefinitely after four unsuccessful attempts, noting that security agents and electoral officers at polling stations were slain in the previous attempt.
As you may recall, the Senate Appropriations Committee had invited the INEC Chairman to present projected election expenditures to the committee in anticipation of the 2023 general elections, with the goal of including them in the 2022 budget that both chambers of the National Assembly are expected to approve today.
He noted that the N305 billion was different from the annual N40 billion budget of the electoral body and that even though N100 billion had been granted to the commission out of total expected expenses, it would not be enough to adequately prepare.
Yakubu added that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which was sent to the President by the National Assembly, would have no effect on the commission’s activities because it is based on the Electoral Act 2010.
Despite the fact that eight by-elections remain until the 2023 general elections, “INEC will never reward poor behavior,” he said. Only in June 2022, when the gubernatorial election is held, can the election be held again.”
When asked why he couldn’t defend the agency’s budget plan last week, Yakubu said: “I was out of the country; we had a network of chairmen of electoral commissions across West Africa; and we hold our general assembly once every two years.” Consequently, I was not able to attend this event in person.
“I also want to thank you for the provision in the bill for ensuring that funds are released to the commission at least one year to the election. This is really very useful.
“We made a submission for the sum of N305billion for the 2023 general elections. It is a very comprehensive 22-page document with 260 budget lines.
“In submitting the executive proposal to the National Assembly, the sum of N140 billion was made available to INEC as a one line item in the budget and as usual, we broke it down and submitted same to the committee that oversights INEC in both the House and the Senate.
“The N140 billion was broken into two, we take it that N40 billion is our regular budget as an agency of government and N100 billion was the first tranche of the 2022 budget and we have gone ahead to make provisions accordingly.
“For the N40 billion annual budget, it include the elections that we are supposed to conduct particularly off-season elections. It may interest the committee to know that we have eight by-elections pending made up of three Federal Constituencies and five state constituencies.
“In fact, the last vacancy occurred only last Wednesday following the death of a member that represented Jiwa West State Constituency in Kaduna State. We have other by-elections pending. We hope that these elections will hold as soon as we resume in the new year.
“We have the FCT Area Council election holding on February 12, 2022. We have released timetable for Ekiti and Osun governorship elections.
“Ekiti governorship election is holding in June but in about two weeks, party primaries for Ekiti will commence beginning from January 1 to 29, 2022, and the primaries for Osun State will be in February.
“Elections are held all year round, there is no longer election season in Nigeria. Elections are held all year round as the need arises for these elections.
“But for the 2023 general election, we made a submission on the basis of the N100 billion as one line item, N40 billion regular budget and the 2022 Appropriation Bill, and then there is the outstanding N205 billion.
“What we have done is to look at the activities that we have to conduct before the general elections. There are activities that must be concluded.”