The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that the N18 billion allocated in the 2023 Supplementary Budget is not solely designated for the conduct of the three off-cycle elections. INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made this clarification during an appearance before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations to defend the commission’s budget.
INEC is poised to oversee off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States, as well as bye-elections in various states across Nigeria.
Yakubu explained that the expenses associated with the three off-cycle elections and bye-elections are included in the supplementary budget. However, he pointed out that a portion of the N18 billion is designated for staff salaries and allowances.
He elaborated, “You will recall that in April this year, there was a 40 percent increase in the peculiar allowance of civil servants. It was not provided in our 2023 budget because the budget was passed in December last year. At the same time, there is another circular from the government dated February, where the Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) and other consequential allowances were increased by the government. There is no provision in our statutory budget. We have over 15,000 staff, and it is not easy to find the money to pay without a supplementary budget. So, we made a case to the government, and we have been included. For the 16,614 staff of INEC, it is N10.6 billion, and we have made provision for that.”
Furthermore, Yakubu revealed that INEC had been unable to conduct some bye-elections due to a lack of budgetary provisions. He disclosed that there are 11 vacancies, seven in the national assembly and four in state assemblies, which INEC must conduct by-elections to fill. However, there is currently no funding available for these elections.
Yakubu expressed the hope that no further by-elections will be necessary so that INEC can focus on those already budgeted for. He highlighted the unusual frequency of vacancies in the House of Representatives and the financial challenges these unexpected elections pose to the commission.
The clarification by the INEC Chairman offers insights into the allocation of funds in the supplementary budget, with a portion designated for election-related expenses and another for the commission’s operational needs. It underscores the importance of securing adequate resources to ensure the smooth and efficient conduct of elections across Nigeria.