The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has unveiled a comprehensive breakdown of how the electoral body intends to allocate the N18 billion proposed in the 2023 supplementary budget.
This announcement came during his appearance before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, where he provided a thorough explanation of the allocation plan.
In his address before the lawmakers, Chairman Yakubu clarified that the N18 billion allocation was not solely designated for the conduct of the three upcoming off-season governorship elections in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa States. Instead, a significant portion of the budget is allocated to personnel costs.
Mr. Yakubu revealed that INEC requires N10.6 billion to cover a 40 percent increase in the peculiar allowance, which was announced by the federal government earlier this year. The commission currently employs a workforce of 16,614 individuals.
Explaining the necessity for this allocation, he stated, “You will recall that in April this year, there was a 40 percent increase in the peculiar allowance of civil servants. It was not provided in our 2023 budget because the budget was passed in December last year. At the same time, there is another circular from the government dated February, where the duty tour allowance (DTA) and other consequential allowances were increased by the government.”
“We have over 15,000 staff, and it is not easy to find the money to pay without a supplementary budget. So, we made a case to the government, and we have been included. For the component dealing with the 40 percent peculiar allowance, for the 16,614 staff of INEC, it is N10.6 billion, and we have made provision for that.”
Additionally, Mr. Yakubu provided insight into how the commission utilized the N355 billion allocated in the 2022 budget. Contrary to common perception, he revealed that the entire amount was not expended on the general election but was partly utilized for elections in Osun and Ekiti states, as well as the general election itself.
He further explained that the forthcoming off-season elections would be funded using a portion of the N355 billion.
“Since the budget was passed in 2023, many parameters have changed. For instance, the cost implication of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) has risen from 197 per liter to over 600 now. So we need augmentation. Part of the N18 billion is going to augment the elections in the three states,” Mr. Yakubu informed the lawmakers.
The INEC Chairman also raised concerns about the pressure from vendors who are requesting a review of the current rates for their services.
Continuing his presentation, Mr. Yakubu lamented the impact of court verdicts on the commission’s operations, highlighting that there are currently over 11 vacancies in the national and state assemblies. Due to these court pronouncements, the commission will be compelled to organize by-elections in numerous constituencies.
“There’s no budgetary provision for the conduct of these unforeseen and unbudgeted by-elections. Not many people in Nigeria would believe that within four months after the inauguration of the national and state assemblies, 11 vacancies have occurred, resulting in 11 by-elections in just four months. Unfortunately, the majority of these vacancies are coming from the House of Representatives, with five vacancies in the House of Representatives alone,” he stated.
Chairman Yakubu’s detailed explanation of INEC’s budget allocation sheds light on the challenges and financial considerations involved in conducting free and fair elections in Nigeria.
The proposed N18 billion supplementary budget will play a crucial role in ensuring the commission’s operational efficiency and the successful organization of upcoming elections.