By Biola Adebayo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says that it will before the end of this week release the timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The polls are billed to hold at separate dates later this year.
INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the disclosure on Monday when he led other members of the commission to defend its 2019 budget proposal before a joint session of the Senate Committee on INEC and House Committee on Electoral Matters.
Yakubu, while breaking down the commission’s 2019 budget proposal of N45.4 billion, explained: “This year, we are going to conduct two end of tenure elections into the offices of the governors in Kogi and Bayelsa states. This year towards the end of the year, we are going to conduct governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa.”
“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.”
On the 2019 INEC budget, the INEC boss observed that the commission was receiving same envelop amount as 2017 and 2018.
He said: “For 2019, we were presented with an envelope of N45.5 billion naira 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 naira 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 commission’s budget in the previous year, INEC was fully funded.
“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 N21.8 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 Prof. Yakubu, is the overhead cost put at N4.2 billion naira and 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 and others,” 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 N3.3 billion for the foreseen and unforeseen elections”.
“The 2019 general election is in effect over, but for INEC, the conduct of elections is an all year-round activity,” he said.
The Chairman Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif, hailed 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.
Nazif asked his colleagues and all stakeholders in the electoral process to pass into law, 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, Aishatu Dukku, stressed the need for stakeholders to be carried along in the 2019 INEC budget.