INEC Laments Budget Cut May Hamper Edo, Ondo Poll

INEC Laments Budget Cut May Hamper Edo, Ondo Poll

…Says it Will Pose Serious Constraints on Its Operations The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the N1billion proposed for conduct of elections in the 2020 budget would not be enough to execute the governorship poll in Edo and Ondo states and other off season elections slated for next year, even as it

…Says it Will Pose Serious Constraints on Its Operations

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the N1billion proposed for conduct of elections in the 2020 budget would not be enough to execute the governorship poll in Edo and Ondo states and other off season elections slated for next year, even as it gears up to conduct guber elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states on November 16.

The Election Management Body (EMB) also lamented the reduction of its budget from N45.5billion to N40billion in the 2020 Appropriation Bill under consideration at the National Assembly.

INEC boss, Prof Mahmood Yakubu who disclosed this at the weekend, said that apart from the governorship polls scheduled to hold in Ondo and Edo States, the Commission is expected to conduct not less than 42 supplementary elections in different states across the country.

The Chairman accompanied by other officials of the Commission, were at the National Assembly to defend the budget proposal before the Joint Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on Electoral Matters.

He disclosed that whereas INEC had consistently been on an annual budget of N45.5billion in the last two consecutive years, its reduction by N5.5 billion might pose serious constraint on its operations. According to him, the N1billion earmarked for conduct of polls would also be deployed to Continous Voter Registration exercise ahead of the governorship polls in those two states.

He revealed that adequate provisions had been made in the 2019 budget for the governorship polls billed to hold in Bayelsa and Kogi States on November 16. According to him, the sum of N2.7billion has been earmarked for the said elections out of which INEC has spent N1.1billion so far.

He also said that INEC will be saving about N500million following its decision to combine the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi with other pending supplementary elections in the two states.

The lawmakers had earlier taken INEC to task on its involvement in extra-budgetary expenditure and warned that it ought to seek approval for any change or virement on any item on the budget passed by the National Assembly.

The INEC chairman explained that the extra-budgetary expenditures arose out of exigencies of meeting constitutional timelines on several off season elections and did not exceed the budgetary provisions.

Meanwhile, INEC says it has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. At the Anniversary Colloquium marking the Press Week of the Lagos State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Yakubu, represented by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, had said that all the sensitive materials for the Kogi and Bayelsa elections would be delivered one month before the election in November. .

The INEC chairman added that the Commission had made available for collection all uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), pointing out Sept. 30 was the deadline for the exercise. Yakubu, however, noted that some concerns of possible violence had been raised about the forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, given the violence that led to the declaration of inconclusive elections in the two states in 2015.

“Therefore, politicians in Bayelsa and Kogi must shed off the toga of political violence associated with elections in the two states. The Commission will continue to work with security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to provide adequate security for all our elections.

“Nigerians deserve and should always have free, fair and credible elections. INEC owes the nation and Nigerians a duty to ensure that votes count. The present Commission has demonstrated this commitment in all the elections it has conducted, in spite of multiple challenges.

“Ultimately, the Commission’s ability to organise credible elections also depend on the cooperation of all stakeholders in the electoral process and the strict adherence to the rules of the game. The Commission will continue to ensure that votes count,” he noted.

INEC) had also released the names of political parties that qualified to contest the governorship elections in the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

Its National Commissioner in Charge of Information and Public Education, Mr Festus Okoye, said that at the close of the time stipulated by sections 31, 33 and 35 of Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) for the submission of the names of nominated candidates, 49 nominations were received for Kogi State.

It further said that out of these, 41 nominations were valid, while eight were invalid.   According to the statement, INEC further said that 18 political parties withdrew from contesting the elections, while, 23 political parties would contest the Governorship election in Kogi State.

For Bayelsa State, INEC said that a total of 52 nominations were received, explaining that out of these, 46 were valid, while six were invalid.

It also said that one political party had since withdrawn from the contest, leaving a total of 45 political parties to contest the Governorship election in Bayelsa State

In view of this, INEC said, “In compliance with section 34 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated will be published in the relevant offices and on the website of the Commission on Monday, September 30, 2019.

The statement said that the Commission had on September 12, 2019 informed the public that 64 political parties conducted primaries in Bayelsa State and 59 in Kogi State, adding that “Out of these, 52 political parties for Bayelsa State and 49 for Kogi State respectively, submitted the list and personal particulars of their candidates at the close of nomination at 6p.m. on Monday, September 9, 2019.

“The Commission also informed the public that from its preliminary review of the list and personal particulars submitted by the parties at the close of nomination, some of the Governorship and Deputy Governorship candidates were below the minimum age prescribed by the Constitution and that the Commission was considering further action.

“By a letter dated September 13, 2019, the Commission notified the concerned political parties of the invalidity of their nominations. In Bayelsa State, six of the nominated Governorship and/or Deputy Governorship candidates were affected, while in Kogi State there were eight such nominees.

“Some of the affected parties have written the Commission admitting their error and requesting to submit new nominees to replace the underaged ones. However, this was after the deadline for submission of nominations on September 9, 2019.

“As such the Commission could not accept any fresh nominations. In like manner, since the parties did not submit valid nominations before the deadline, they cannot substitute the candidates on the grounds of death or voluntary withdrawal, in accordance with the Electoral Act2010 (as amended), which assumes the prior existence of valid nominations”, INEC said.

The Commission said that it had cause to draw the attention of political parties to the same problem of nominating underaged candidates, explaining communication was a notice to the parties that future violation of such a basic provision of the Constitution would be unacceptable and could  lead to severe consequences.  

Accordingly, it said that the Commission had informed the affected parties that their names and logos would not appear on the ballots for the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections due to the invalidity of their nominations.

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