By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday presented a 2019 budget proposal of N45.4 billion, even as it said it will release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the end of tenure of governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states billed to hold at separate dates later this year.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu made the disclosure when he led members of the Commission to defend the Commission’s 2019 budget proposal before a joint session of the Senate Committee on INEC and House Committee on Electoral matters.
The INEC Chairman while breaking down the Commission’s 2019 budget proposal of N45.4 billion, explained that “this year we are going to conduct two end of tenure elections into the offices of the governor in Kogi and Bayelsa states. This year towards the end of the year we are going to conduct governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsea .
He declared: “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 Mahmood observed that the Commission was receiving same envelop amount as 2017 and 2018. His words “for 2019 we were presented with an envelope of N45.5 billion 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 N45 billion in 2016 it was N45 billion and in 2018 it was increased marginally to N45.5 billion and the same envelope was presented to the Commission in 2018 and 2019.
He noted that in terms of performance of the Commissions budget in the previous year, INEC was fully funded. He 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”.
The INEC Chairman further gave a breakdown of the proposed N45.5 billion naira, which he explained were in four components.
He 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 N17.5 billion and you have the social contribution, National Health Insurance, contributory pension, and employee compensation of N4.3 billion naira”.
The second component according to Professor Mahmood, is the overhead cost put at N4.2 billion naira while the third budget head is for electoral expenditure. “The Commission is proposing the sum of N17.7 billion naira under the electoral expenditure to cover such activities as monitoring party primaries, conventions, voter education, stakeholder meeting legal expenses etc”, he explained.
The INEC Chairman however noted that “the biggest expenditure item is the conduct of elections for which we are earmarking the sum of N3.3billion for the foreseen and unforeseen elections.
He said the fourth and final budget head for which N1.6billion was earmarked was for capital expenditure.
The 2019 general election is in effect over but for INEC the conduct of elections is and all year-round activity”.
The Chairman Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif, 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 going forward.
Senator Nazif called on his colleagues and all stakeholders in the electoral process to wards 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.
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.