Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, disclosed that it would before the end of this week, roll out the time table for Bayelsa and Kogi states gubernatorial elections, slated to hold at separate period, this year.
Meanwhile, the commission has proposed N45.4 billion to be spent this year as its 2019 budget proposal.
Speaking during the defence of the commission’s 2019 budget before a joint session of the Senate Committee on INEC and House Committee on Electoral Matters, in Abuja, yesterday, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, explained that “this year we are going to conduct two ends of tenure elections into the offices of the governor in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
INEC boss, Prof Mahmood Yakubu “Let me seize this opportunity here to say before the end of this week INEC will issue a timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.”
On the 2019 INEC budget, Professor Yakubu, who noted that the commission was receiving same envelop amount as 2017 and 2018, said: “For 2019 we were presented with an envelope of 45.5 billion naira as our regular budget. This is the same envelope as in 2018 only slightly better than the envelopes of several years before them.
“In 2017 it was 45 billion in 2016 it was 45 billion naira and in 2018 it was increased marginally to 45.5 billion and the same envelope was presented to the Commission in 2018 and 2019.
The INEC Chairman, who disclosed that the Commission in terms of performance in the previous year was fully funded, said “I will say for the 2018 financial year we were fully funded; we were on the first line charge so in terms of the releases from the executive to the Commission we were fully funded”.
Giving a further breakdown of the proposed 45.5 billion naira, Yakubu, who explained that they were in four components, said: “the first one is personnel cost and in 2019 the Commission is proposing the sum of 21.8 billion naira to cover consolidated salaries for 16,455 career employees of INEC and 51 political office holders, making a total of 16,506 employees of the Commission in 2019. “The personnel cost is broken into two subheads, you have the consolidated salary of 17.5 billion and you have the social contribution, National Health Insurance, contributory pension, and employee compensation of 4.3 billion naira”.
According to Professor Yakubu, the second component is the overhead cost put at 4.2 billion naira while the third budget head is for electoral expenditure, adding, “The Commission is proposing the sum of 17.7 billion naira under the electoral expenditure to cover such activities as monitoring party primaries, conventions, voter education, stakeholder meeting legal expenses etc.
“The biggest expenditure item is the conduct of elections for which we are earmarking the sum of 3.3billion for the foreseen and unforeseen elections. The 2019 general election is in effect over but for INEC the conduct of elections is and all year-round activity”. He said the fourth and final budget head for which 1.6billion was earmarked was for capital expenditure.
The Chairman Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif, who commended INEC for a job well done in the just concluded 2019 general elections even as he noted that there were concerns that should be addressed for Nigeria to move forward, however, called on his colleagues and all stakeholders in the electoral process towards the passing into law of the amendment to the Electoral Act in a bid to strengthen the electoral process.
On her part, the Chairperson of the House Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matters, Hon. Aishatu Dukku, stressed the need for all stakeholders to be carried along in the 2019 INEC budget, just as she assured that the process for the amendment of the Electoral Act would be given due consideration as soon as the 9th National Assembly resumes.