The House of Representatives’ Committee on Electoral Matters, Wednesday, doubted the sincerity of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the duplication of items provided for in the 2018 budget for the 2019 polls.
The committee, chaired by Aisha Dukku (APC-Gombe), who queried the rationale behind the huge budget proposal, observed that most of the subheads captured in the N189.2 billion were contained in the N45.5 billion approved budget for Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
A total sum of N45.5 billion as proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari, was approved by the National Assembly.
Further findings showed that details of INEC expenditure were given in the 2018 Appropriation Act signed into law by President Buhari.
In her remarks, Dukku reiterated the House resolved to support towards issue anything that will strengthen the nation’s electoral process and aid INEC in discharging its functions.
Dukku gave the assurance during the INEC budget presentation to members of the committee for the conduct of 2019 general elections.
She explained, “It is only by so doing that one can begin to unravel the intricacies of the entire range of issues involved and their inter-connection.
“You will agree with me that for a government that promised change to its people, the foundation of this change ought to be evident in the way we plan our elections and electoral processes. The estimates should represent a true picture of the Fiscal Responsibility Act,” she said.
The lawmakers expressed concern over INEC’s previous budgets, saying they were neither productive nor effective because of poor planning.
“It is our prayer and hope that the present administration would address the issues with budgeting, especially with regards to funding, unlike the previous budgets that were not productive in the entire planning of elections
Recall that Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, met with the INEC on the budget of the commission.
Also recall that the INEC boss had explained to senators why the delay in the passage of the Electoral Act prevented the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from including the budget of 2019 elections in the 2018 appropriation last January.
Yakubu had said until legislative process was completed on the bill, the commission would be unable to estimate effectively the cost for the election.
“We can’t complete work on the election budget unless the National Assembly has helped us to complete work on the Electoral Act.
“For instance, there is provision in the bill passed by the Senate for two types of primaries; direct and indirect. One party may opt for direct, another for indirect and both will have different cost implications.
“What are we going to do? We have to wait until the act is passed before we know the correct figure. I will appeal to the distinguished senators to expedite work on the electoral act so that we can have an idea of the figure,” Yakubu had said.
Yakubu had noted that INEC had made three key improvements on the card readers for forthcoming elections.
“First, we are improving the processors of smart card readers so that it will be speedier. Secondly, we are increasing the windows where people press the fingers on election day,” he added.