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2019: Election monitors raises alarm over delay in passage of INEC budget

2019: Election monitors raises alarm over delay in passage of INEC budget

- There are mounting concerns over the forthcoming 2019 general elections

- This is due to the delay in the passage of the election budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

- Election monitoring groups are concerned that the delay could could jeopardize adequate preparations for the exercise

The Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) and other election observer groups have expressed concern over the continuous delay in the passage of the 2019 election budget for INEC, stressing that it could jeopardize adequate preparations for the exercise.

The groups in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day round table on the election budget impasse, therefore urged the National Assembly to as a matter of national and public interest, urgently pass the INEC budget, just as it called for an end to all forms of intrigues and politics associated with the budget.

The communique was jointly signed by the ISDMG executive director, Dr Chima Amadi; Faith Nwadishi, Centre for Transparency Advocacy; Abdul Mahmud, Public Interest Lawyers League; Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice;Okechukwu Nwanguma NOPRIN; Ezenwa Nwagwu, Partners for Electoral Reforms and a host of other election observer groups.

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The groups while addressing concerns regarding some allocations in the budget, noted that such angst on some of the budget amount and line items are unfounded.

It stated that for instance such amount as the claim of N6 billion provision for feeding of policemen during the election period and N700 million for foreign observers are false as there are no such provision in the budget at all.

Accordingly, it stated that what the budget item has is N4.6billion (exactly N4, 689,996,100.00) for feeding allowance paid to security and election personnel.

Addressing the feeding line item specifically, the communique stated that, “what the budget item has is N4.6b (exactly N4, 689,996,100.00) for feeding allowance paid to security and election personnel at N1, 000 per head for two days ( 2x 1000=2000) and is fully explained and justified in line 26 of the budget proposal.

“We note that N1,000 is a token allowance per official for 2 elections (presidential and NASS on February 16 and gubernatorial and state assembly and FCT area councils on 2nd March)

“It covers the 180,000 polling units and voting points, 8809 ward collation centers, and 1558 constituency collation centers involving over a million personnel for two elections including provisions for possible run-off elections.

“That Ad hoc staff alone is about 1.3m, and does not include INEC main staff, police, DSS, Civil Defence, soldiers among others. This is not the first time it is done and is without prejudice to the duty tour allowance for all security personnel handled through their various agencies.

“Nigerians have forgotten that the immediate former chairman of INEC, Prof.essor Attahiru Jega, had to defend a similar provision before the 2015 general elections.”

They explained that Nigerians may not be aware of some of the details in the budget because this is the first time ever that the details of election budget is submitted to NASS, defended by INEC and open to scrutiny by citizens.

They lamented that inaccurate, sensational reportage and deliberate promotion of falsehood by a section of the media has helped in no small way to aggravate this logjam.

The groups, however, commended the openness of the budget process and urge the electoral commission to continue with this practice in subsequent elections.

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Meanwhile, a group of young Nigerians under the Raising New Voices initiative have launched what they call #BreakTheHold campaign geared towards supporting young Nigerians seeking political office in the 2019 general elections.

The convener of the movement, Jude Feranmi, made this known during a press conference held at Ventures Platform, Abuja on Monday, August 5.

Promoters of the initiative are also partnering with YIAGA Africa's #ReadyToRun movement to select and vet the right candidates that would represent Nigerian youths at the elections.

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