From Sola Muyideen Ilorin
House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal has said paucity of funds might scuttle the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s efforts to conduct a fraud-free elections in 2015.
This was just as INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega said the commission would require a whooping N102 billion to conduct a credible election in 2015.
The duo spoke in Ilorin yesterday at a public lecture organised by the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation (MAF) on the “Challenges of fraud-free elections under a democratic dispensation”.
Tambuwal who was the chairman of the occasion, had said there was a N19 billion budget deficit for INEC in the 2014 appropriation bill before the National Assembly, presented by the Budget Office.
“Now the 2014 appropriation Bill is before the National Assembly and talking about a truly independent INEC, you need to fund the electoral body to be able to carry out its all-important assignment of conducting election.
“However what we have presented before us as the total sum required by INEC according to the Budget Office is N45 bn whereas INEC itself is requesting about N63.8bn for the proper conduct of that election. This is what INEC is seeking for to conduct a free, fair and credible election. We have before us the proposal of N45bn instead of N63.8bn.
“Therefore there is a deficit of about N19bn. Unless and until we are able to meet up and give INEC as a government what is required, then we are about preparing…don’t read my body language”.
He said  that the commission had justified the funds accrued to it in 2011 and that the executive and legislature must see reasons why the electoral umpire should be given enough funds to carry out its function for a credible election to hold in 2015.
The speaker, however, dismissed insinuations that the 2015 elections will determine the unity of the country saying that Nigeria had moved past such era.
Also, speaking Jega who presented a paper on the lecture topic lamented that the N45 billion presented by the budget office was a fraction of what INEC needed to conduct a credible election as it was not even sufficient to pay salaries and make necessary procurements.
“As Mr. Speaker rightly said, that budget was actually a fraction of what we need to conduct that election. If we have to keep on improving the integrity of the election, we also have to incur necessary expenditures in that process. We have to engage ad-hoc staff, we have to pay them allowances, we have to transport them or give them transport allowance, we have to provide allowance to security agencies, we have to procure ballot papers with security details and we also have to procure result sheet in addition to ballot papers and ballot boxes and all those non-sensitive materials that are required to hold elections.
“And our requirements are far, far in excess of what is in the law. What keeps us optimistic is that in 2011, both the National Assembly and the Executive have seen the need to provide appropriate funding in order to do a good election and we are hopeful that this recognition now will be made and funding requirements would be provided.
“Anytime we mention figures about how much it will cost for election, we are put on the defensive. But since the Honourable Speaker has mentioned the figure, I am duty-bound to mention our figure.
“As I speak with you when we saw the budget of N45bn and we are asked to now provide the details of how N45bn can be spent. In our engagement with the relevant authorities, we said, “Look N45bn is not even sufficient for us to do necessary procurement between now and say November and to pay salaries and other entitlements of staff because all those are parts of this N45bn”.

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