The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally met with lawmakers to kick-start the process of passing the budget for 2019 elections.
The leadership of the electoral umpire met with the house of representatives committee on electoral and political parties matters in Abuja on Wednesday, regarding the N189 billion budgeted for it to conduct the election.
President Muhammadu Buhari had sent a virement request to the national assembly seeking approval of the budget but the lawmakers were unable to pass it before embarking on recess.
Following calls to reconvene and pass the budget, the national assembly leadership met with INEC last week to consider the way forward over the matter.
Addressing members of the committee, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, defended the budget as what would be enough to conduct the poll.
He said out of the N189 billion, N134.4 billion will be used as operation cost while N6 billion was budgeted for feeding security officials during the election.
He added that N27.5 billion will be used for election technological cost while N22.7 billion will be for administrative cost.
Aishatu Dukku, chairman of the committee, said the lawmakers will be transparent in considering details of the budget.
“It is important for us to approach the budget proposal from both process and content perspective,” she said, adding: “It is only by so doing that one can begin to unravel the intricacies of the entire range of issues involved.”
She also said the committee hopes the government would address issues that have to do with election funding “unlike the previous budgets that were not productive in the entire planning of elections.”
The commission subsequently met with the senate committee on INEC over the same matter.
At the senate meeting, Yakubu said the increase in the budget — as against the N120 billion requested in the 2015 elections — was necessitated by the increase in number of political parties, registered voters as well as high exchange rate.
The commission has so far registered 91 political parties as against the 44 that were in place in 2015.
“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,” he added.
“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.”