Today, the Senate Committee on INEC Chaired by Senator Suleiman Nazif held a meeting with the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, and other INEC Commissioners.
Senators present were Senators: Atai Aidoko, James Manager, Mohammed Hassan, Sabi Abdullahi, Ovie Omo Agege, Olusola Adeyeye, Abdullahi Gumel, Gilbert Nnaji, Isah Misau and Senator Suleiman Nazif (Chairman Senate Committee on INEC).
“This budget defense will assure Nigerians that this Senate is committed to the Nigerian people.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.
“This budget defense will put to an end all the political brouhaha… we will ensure that INEC receives all the necessary funding that it needs for the 2019 elections.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.
“Distinguished Senators only received the budget details from INEC last night/this morning from INEC.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.
“I thank members of this Committee for suspending your recess to attend to this very important national issue.”- INEC Chairman.
“Mr. Chairman, this is the first time that the budget of the National Assembly is presented in this manner.”- INEC Chairman.
“For the first time, this budget is subjected to scrutiny by the National Assembly and the Nigerian people. I am happy to be a part of this process.”- INEC Chairman.
“As at Saturday, we have registered 12.1 new voters. Adding this to the 70million voter register, we have over 80million registered voters…The general elections are just around the corner.”- INEC Chairman.
“Mr. Chairman, I wish to draw the attention of this Committee to the fact that there is a difference of N69billion in the budgets of 2015 and 2019.”- INEC Chairman.
“In 2015, we had 70million registered voters. As of last week Saturday, we now have over 80million registered voters.”- INEC Chairman.
“All major activities are pegged against the total number of voters. In 2015, we had only 42 political parties. We now have 91 registered political parties eligible to take part in the 2019 general elections.”- INEC Chairman.
“We are hoping that all the political parties will have seamless congresses and primaries. Another issue that we have accounted for, is the processing costs of nominations.”- INEC Chairman.
“The cost of logistics is also different in 2019 as opposed to 2015, because the pump price of petrol in 2015, is different from that of 2019. This will also have an impact.”- INEC Chairman.
“With the increase of voters, we will have to increase the number of voting points. And with the increase of voting points, we will also have an increase in Ad-Hoc Staff.”- INEC Chairman.
“We have provided a line-by-line explanation and account of this budget to the Distinguished Senators.”- INEC Chairman.
“Thank you very much Distinguished Senators, and we will be very happy to interact with the Committee.”- INEC Chairman.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman for your clear explanation about the details of the 2019 General Election budget.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.
“I will now give an opportunity for all members of the Senate Committee to ask questions.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.
“Continuous voter registration is of great importance to Nigerians. Without which you cannot excercise your right to vote. Mr. Chairman, in the 2018 budget, we made provision for this process and I believe that this funds are supposed to run till the end of the year.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.
“Mr. Chairman, in item 39, you have budget N5bn+ for this continuous voter registration. Mr. Chairman, if you were provided with funds in the 2018 budget, why is this provision repeated?”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.
“The electoral act demands that we continue voter registration. Based on the budgetary provision in 2017, we could only do PVC registration at the LGA level.”- INEC Chairman.
“By the end of the Second Quarter of 2017, we had over 1400 registration centers across the country.”- INEC Chairman.
“The funds we had were not adequate. This is why in 2018, we approached the National Assembly for additional funding.”- INEC Chairman.
“The Electoral Act Amendment has been going back and forth between the National Assembly and the President. What would happen to the provisions of the Act that have been budgeted for if it is not signed by the President?”- Senator James Manager.
“Your contingency budget provisions have been cut down. I am surprised that you have decided to cut this down to only 2.5% of the budget. What informed this thinking?”- Senator James Manager.
“If the Electoral Act is not signed into law, we will continue to operate within the ambits of the law as it exists.”- INEC Chairman.
“Even if the Electoral Act is not signed into law, we need to continue to improve our electoral process to promote transparency.”- INEC Chairman.
“Why is our contingency low? If it had been 10%, it would have been considered too high. Now it is 2.5%, it is too low. However, there are some contingencies that we need to expect.”- INEC Chairman.
“There is a conflict of request here: from the letter presented by Mr. President and the budget presented by INEC. You are asking for N189billion, meanwhile Mr. President is asking for N140billion.”- Senator Mohammed Hassan.
“The President is saying that the additional N45billion will be requested for in the 2019 budget. You are asking for N189billion. Which of these requests should we focus on?”- Senator Mohammed Hassan.
“There is no conflict in the letters. If you add up the requests by the President and INEC, they add up. The sequence of disbursement is up for the legislature and the executive to decide.”- INEC Chairman.