The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, has projected that the National Assembly may pass the N242 billion 2019 General Elections budget next week.
The INEC boss, who gave this hint during his interaction with journalists after an executive session with the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja, said that he was assured of the lawmakers’ commitment to efficiently conducted elections next year.
He explained: “The most important thing to say is that INEC was invited to meet with NASS leadership on how the proposed budget for the 2019 elections can be speedily considered and appropriated by the National Assembly.
“We have been assured of speedy passage of the budget, perhaps as early as next week. N242 billion is the total amount proposed”, Mahmood added.
While commending the leadership of the National Assembly for the interaction, he pointed out that with the parley with the legislators, the commission was encouraged to sustain its arrangements for the 2019 elections.
He clarified further: “We have from today, exactly 191 days to the opening of polling units at 8a.m on Saturday the 16th of February, 2019. There are activities that we have to undertake for a minimum of six months to the election date.
“Six months to the election date kick starts from 15th of August, which means we have only eight days to the commencement of these activities.
“We are confident that with this meeting, all the grey areas will be ironed out and as we are concerned, our component of the cost of the election will be speedily appropriated by the National Assembly.
“This is the first time in the history of our election that the budget for the election will be subjected to approval by the National Assembly this way. We want to thank you for the reassurance that the commission will not be constrained in any way in the conduct of the election”, Mahmood added.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said that it had become imperative to know the details of budget in order to appropriate properly, noting that the purpose of the meeting is to get feedback from INEC on the elections time frame and of the funding needs of the commission.
He said: “As you know, over the last few years we have worked very closely with you to ensure that we raise the standard of our election processes by periodic amendments to the Electoral Act and other forms of support.
” I am more committed than ever to ensure that we have an election that is not only free and safe but credible, better than what we did in 2015. The only way to do that is to ensure you have all the necessary tools that will make it efficient. You cannot perform if you do not have the necessary tools. So, our role is to support you.