The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has given reasons to justify the increase in the 2019 election budget.
He said this on Wednesday during the budget presentation of the 2019 general election at a meeting the Senate Committee on INEC in Abuja.
He listed increase in number of political parties, increase on voters population and registered voters, high cost of logistics, exchange rates, increase in number of constituencies as reasons for the increase.
INEC had in 2015 requested for N120 billion for the general election and is now requesting for N189.2 billion to conduct the 2019 polls.
The proposed budget for 2019 election budget has an increase of about N69 billion compared to the 2015 election budget.
Explaining the reasons behind the increase, the INEC boss stated that the commission has registered 91 political parties as against 44 in 2015.
He said the increase in number will affect the size and cost of ballot papers which will be printed with multiple columns.
“Also associated with political parties, is monitoring of party primaries, congresses and conventions. There is also the processing of nominations. We have 12,558 constituencies which means INEC has to process about 141,778 nominations.”
Mr Yakubu also gave increase in price of petroleum products and high exchange rate as reasons for the increase.
“We also have more electoral constituencies. Right now, we have about 68 more constituencies and there is also increase in the number of registered voters.
“We’ll need to open more voting points, engage more ad-hoc staff, supervisors and returning officers,” he said, stating that as at August 11, the commission has registered 12.1 million voters.
Members of the committee deliberated on whether to grant INEC’s request or that of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Even though Mr Buhari, in his letter to the Senate, requested that N189.2 billion be released to INEC, he had asked that N143.5 billion be released now and N45.6 billion be released in 2019.
However, the commission, in it’s presentation today, demanded for the entire sum.
While responding to questions from members of the committee, Mr Yakubu said the major problem the commission encountered is the conduct of political primaries by parties.
He said crises that happen during party primaries and other elections incure additional costs for the commission.
When asked if the commission will need another budget for 2019 after the N189 billion has been released, Mr Yakubu’s response was positive.
“INEC will present a regular budget for 2019 because we need to pay our staff and there will be more elections to conduct,” he said.
The lawmakers lamented the high number of political parties and asked that the law and process involved in registering political parties be strict.
In his response, the INEC boss explained that the commission ensures that each party registered meets the requirements provided by the law.
Breakdown Of Proposed Budget:
Total proposed amount for the election is N189.2 billion.
°Electoral operational cost – N134.4 billion: Procurement of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, payment of allowances, logistics, voters registration, printing of voters card.
°Election technology cost – N27.5 billion: IT related procurement, upgrading and replacement of equipment.
°Election admin cost – N22.6 billion: Payment of insurance of properties, insurance of officials involved in the electoral process including ad hoc staff, procurement of items, stationaries among others.
°Contingency – N4.6 billion (2.5% of the entire budget for ‘unforeseen’ costs).