Against the backdrop of complaints by experts who decry the astronomical costs of elections in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described the cost of operations and logistics in the country as particularly enormous. INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Board of The Electoral Institute (TEI), Mr Solomon Shoyebi, said that the
Against the backdrop of complaints by experts who decry the astronomical costs of elections in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described the cost of operations and logistics in the country as particularly enormous.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Board of The Electoral Institute (TEI), Mr Solomon Shoyebi, said that the Commission would continue to review the cost of elections.
A statement issued by INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, quoted Shoyebi as making the assertion at a one-day round table held on Wednesday in Abuja.
The theme of the roundtable according to the statement is: “Revisiting the Template for INEC’s Election Operations and Logistics Plan’’.
It was organised by the Commission through its Training, Research and Documentation outfit, The Electoral Institute (TEI).
Nigeria’s watershed election in 2015 which led to the defeat of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, costing a whooping $122.8 billion was $8.5 per voter. The cost per voter for other countries on the continent, are as follows: Liberia 2017 election $6.6, Tanzania’s 2015 election $5.16, Uganda 2016 election $4 while the Rwanda 2016 election cost $1.1 per voter.
In his paper presented to the Abuja 2018 international conference on the use of technology in elections titled, “Cost of Elections in Nigeria”, Prof Adele Jinadu, former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo says that with a registered voter list of 68.9 million and an election cost of N122, 9 billion, the cost of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria was N1158 or US$8.5 at an exchange rate of N210:US$. A large chunk of this went to defray the cost of honoraria, training and transportation to 5000 adhoc staff hired for election duties.
He argued that “there was a decrease in the cost of the 2015 general elections (N122.9 billion), compared to the cost of the 2011 general elections (N135.9 billion), current projected cost of the 2019 general elections is N189.2 billion. With a projected figure of 73 million registered voters, the projected cost per voter for the 2019 general elections at the official exchange rate of N360:US$ will be US$8.5 per voter.”
At the cost of $25 per voter, Kenya which had two presidential elections in a spate of two months in 2017 currently holds the ace of conducting the most expensive election in Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conducted its 2011 election at a staggering $44 per voter while Ghana’s 2016 election cost $18 per voter.
Although he conceded that the costs of elections could in some instances be exaggerated, Jinadu inferring from his experience in Nigeria posited, “How much was voted? What was released? What was spent? What was left?” contending that much is also lost to leakages in the system. “When I was appointed Electoral Commissioner, there was a friend who told me that “this was your golden opportunity to make a clean out””.
Shoyebi said ‘’the cost of election operation and logistics is enormous and it’s an exercise the Commission continues to review from one election to another.”
He added that the Commission would continue to partner stakeholders in the delivery of men and election materials to areas with difficult terrain.
The stakeholders, according to Shoyebi, include the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Nigeria Air Force (NAF) and the Nigeria Navy (NN).
‘’The Commission will continue to engage the services of the NURTW, RTEAN, NARTO, Air Force and the Navy especially in delivering of personnel and materials to difficult terrains to ensure the conduct of free, fair, credible and acceptable elections’’.
Shoyebi said that the Commission was not unaware of the challenges experienced during the 2019 elections, but it rose up to the occasion and responded to the challenges.
“That was why we had successful outings in the 2019 general elections,’’ he added.
It also quoted National Commissioner Amina Zakari as urging all stakeholders to own the process by dispensing positive and productive attitudes that could promote an enduring electoral environment.
Zakari said that the trust deficit in the system was a critical issue to deal with.
She said that trust deficit had overtime compelled INEC to spend highly in the acquisition and securing of high-quality election materials.
This according to her was to prevent manipulations and counterfeits, adding that this was not the case in many countries.
The Director-General of the TEI, Dr Sa’ad Idris, said that the Round Table was designed to examine ‘’factors that affected the smooth implementation of the operations and logistic plan of the Commission in the conduct of the 2019 elections”.
The roundtable, according to the statement, was hosted with a view to identifying challenges and proffering ideas for improved logistical architecture starting from Kogi and Bayelsa elections.
It noted that the Round Table was attended by senior members of the academic community, Civil Society Organizations, development and elections experts, as well as consultants who made inputs into the discussion.