The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu says the commission will introduce electronic voting in 2021 Anambra governorship election.
Yakubu made this known in an interview with journalists on the sideline of the 2021 budget defence at the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters on Wednesday in Abuja.
“It is difficult to give you an idea of cost or when the process would be concluded, but we are determined that we are going to deploy electronic voting machines, electronic balloting machines very soon in our elections.
“Possibly beginning with the Anambra governorship election next year,” he said. Earlier, Yakubu had told the members of the committee that the budget of the commission had continued to decline over the years.
He recalled that in 2019, the envelop for INEC was N45.5 billion while for 2020, the envelop was N40 billion. The chairman said that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget further dropped to N36 billion.
“As a result, the commission decided to look inward, we have the INEC fund established under Section 3 of the INEC Act where we have some savings from previous budgets because we are not expected to remit unspent funds.
“We are on the first line charge and because of the peculiarities of our work, it is in the realisation of this that the parliament in amending the Electoral Act introduced the INEC fund for a number of reasons.
“One, that we cannot be truly independent if we are not financially independent, secondly, there are so many commitments that arise in the middle of a financial year and we cannot meet these obligations except some source of funding.
“So many by-elections had risen unforeseen, and the constitution has prescribed time limits for conducting such elections.
“For example, if constituents decide to call back a member, this is not what you can project at the beginning of a fiscal year, so we have the fund, established since 2010 and we have been growing it since then,” he said.
He said that the commission decided to take N5.2 billion from the fund to supplement the budget.
In terms of the 2020 budget performance, Yakubu said that the N36 billion that was reviewed in September, the commission received N28.3 billion on monthly installment basis.
According to him, from the N36 billion, we still expect a little over N7 billion, if you add this to the N5.2 billion, that will take it to N12.6 billion.
For personnel cost, he said N22billion was appropriated and that releases at the end of September was N16 billion, saying that INEC still expects N6.10 billion on personnel emoluments.
For overhead cost, Yakubu said that N2.2 billion was earmarked, N1.8 billion was so far released and the outstanding is N931 million.
“For electoral expenditures, the budgetary provision was N15.8 billion, release is N9.7 billion and we have a balance of N5.3 billion.
“Capital expenditures, N1.03 billion was appropriated, the releases is N816 million and what is outstanding for the year N520 million.
“In terms of performance, of the N36 billion appropriated, we have so far received N28.3 billion and what is outstanding is N12billion.
“For 2021, the total envelop is N40 billion, the personal cost is N23.2 billion, overhead cost is N2.4 billion and the capital expenditure is N300 million,” he said.
The House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters said it would do anything within the law to help boost the operations the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Its chairman, Rep. Aishatu Dukku who made the pledge said the door of the committee was open to support the commission.
“The door of the committee is always open to INEC on any issue that will aid the commission meet all necessary operational commitments.
“We are partners in progress whose goal is to strengthen our electoral process and aid INEC in discharging its functions,” she said.
Dukku congratulated the INEC chairman on his reappointment as the chairman of the commission by President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said “Undoubtedly, your reappointment signifies your doggedness in steering the affairs of the Commission and most importantly, your steadfastness towards conducting free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.”
She said that the committee would consider INEC’s budget to enable it discharge its mandate of conducting credible elections in Nigeria.