Published On: Sat, Aug 18th, 2018

We Made No Provision For Foreign Observers In 2019 Elections -INEC Boss

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By Sadiq Umar – The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yakubu Mahmud, has clarified the budgetary allocation for international observers in the Commission’s budget proposal before the National Assembly.

Mr. Mahmud, a professor said there is no provision specifically for foreign observers but instead for items required to monitor the 2019 general elections.

INEC Chairman

The INEC boss spoke to State House Correspondents in Abuja while reacting to questions on the controversial INEC budget submitted to the National Assembly for its consideration.

The federal lawmakers had faulted some of the provisions in the budget proposal, including purchase of vehicles, since same were provided for in 2015. Similarly some Civil Society Organizations including the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), had added their voices to the discrepancies in the INEC’s budget.

HURIWA described the INEC’s budget as “fraudulent, criminal and highly unsustainable.

“The N4.614 billion classified as miscellaneous expenses is fraudulent and must never be approved just as the win components of N134.427 billion for election operation cost and N22.660 billion for election administrative cost are duplication meant to conceal the cash that would inevitably be siphoned.’’

The non-government organisation added “the budget for payment of foreign observers lacks credibility and should be discarded.”

However, the INEC chairman insisted that there was no such budget for the international observers as being peddled in some quarters.

He said: “I have had this question that we have prepared budget for international observers, there is no such thing. There is no line in the budget for international observers.

“What we have provided for are the kits, you know the jackets, caps, publication, that we give to international observers, the stickers that are fixed on their cars to be identified on Election Day.

“This is the standard practice. Each country that organises elections provides these facilities for those who monitor elections. “But their accommodation, transportation will be borne by various election monitoring groups and not by the Nigerian government.’’

On possibility of postponing the 2019 general elections in view of the delay in the passage of the INEC’s budget for the elections by the National Assembly, Mahmud said there were no conditions under which elections should be postponed.

He said: “Under section 26 of the Electoral Act, the date is formed and fixed, February 16, 2019.

“We issued the timetable way in advance for the very first time in the history of our nation; citizens of Nigeria know when elections will take place one year in advance. It has never happened before.

“Secondly, also for the very first time in the history of our country, that citizens know the budget of the electoral commission, that budget has never been defended before the National Assembly, as citizens know line by line how much the commission proposed, what the money is going to be spent on.

“I think I am very happy with this process.’’

With additional agency report

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