2019: INEC will not suffer difficulty due to budget passage delay — Yakubu

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PIC.19. From left: National commissioner, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prince Solomon Adedeji; chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu; and another national commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, during the INEC’s presentation of certificate of registration to five new political parties, in Abuja on Friday (16/6/17). 03311/16/6/2017/Hogan-Bassey/ BJO/NAN

The Independent National Electoral Commission (NEC) said it would not suffer any difficulty in conducting the 2019 general elections due to the delay in the passage of its budget.

The electoral body also said that the delay in the amendment to the Electoral Act would not affect its conduct of elections next year.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Friday, explained that there were no discrepancies between the N189.2bn request the commission submitted to the executive and what the National Assembly appropriated to INEC.

He said that INEC had discussed with the Ministry of Finance on the disbursement of funds for the elections and it was confident that the commission would not suffer any encumbrances in that regard.

The INEC chairman added that the commission had already awarded contracts for the supply of the materials that would be needed for the successful conduct of the elections in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.

“We have awarded those contracts that we needed to award for the procurements we needed to make before the elections

“Basically the sensitive materials – ballot boxes, smart card readers the permanent voter cards, the voting cubicles and components for the enhancement of the smart card readers.

“Our hope is that by the first week of December, all these components will be delivered to the commission.

“The election is holding on Feb. 16 and March 2; so, we don’t hope to suffer any difficulties in meeting those requirements for the conduct of the elections.

“Other items of the expenditure will come close to the elections; for instance, payment of the ad hoc staff will be done February next year, not earlier.

“Engagement of transporters for electoral logistics will also be done next year, not this year.

“So, we should be able to meet these entire commitments based on the appropriation by the NASS and also the cash flow discussions we’ve had with the ministry of finance.

“We don’t expect to suffer any inconvenience in that regard.

“Election is a sovereign responsibility and we must say that the government of Nigeria has responded to the request for the proper funding of the 2019 general elections.’’

On the delay in the amendment of the Electoral Act, Yakubu said that the commission would also not have difficulties on implementation, if the amended electoral Act is signed into law.

He said that the commission worked closely with the National Assembly to improve the legal framework (constitutional and the Electoral Act) for conduct of the elections.

Yakubu added that many of the provisions in the bill passed by the NASS last week were based on INEC’s recommendations.

“In our discussions with the NASS, we had been privy to some of the provisions in the draft bills, and we took a proactive step.

“We took some of the new provisions and assumed that eventually these provisions would be passed and assented to and started looking at the possibilities of introducing regulations and guidelines in case these provisions became laws, what can we do to implement them?

“And I want to say that we have gone really far with these. If tomorrow the bill is assented to, there are provisions that we will immediately implement.

“But there are provisions that we cannot implement simply because of time.

“For instance, full blown electronic voting is impossible because of the time frame available for the general elections, which is 112 days – to make provision for electronic voting in the 2019 general elections.

“So, we are aware of the provisions; we have worked closely with NASS and also we have made some draft regulations and guidelines.

“In case some of the provisions become laws we will have no difficulties in implementing them. So we have been proactive.’’

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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