The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu has defended the inclusion of N18 billion in the proposed supplementary budget for the commission in a recent appearance before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation.
Yakubu clarified that this additional funding is not solely designated for the upcoming Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo governorship elections but primarily for personnel costs.
The INEC chairman explained that out of the extra money in the budget, N1.6 billion is set aside to organize 11 important by-elections in various constituencies and senatorial districts across the country.
Yakubu stressed, “The N18 billion in the supplementary appropriation is not all for the conduct of elections. The substantial part of it is about personnel cost.”
He went on to explain that the supplementary budget was necessitated by several factors, including a 40 percent increase in peculiar allowances for public servants in April, which was not accounted for in the original 2023 budget passed in December of the previous year.
Also, a government circular dated February introduced an increase in Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) and other consequential allowances for public servants, which INEC had not initially budgeted for.
Yakubu explained that INEC is known for having one of the largest workforces in Nigeria, with over 15,600 employees, making it challenging to cover these unforeseen expenses without supplementary appropriations.
Yakubu further broke down the allocation, stating, “For the component dealing with a 40 percent peculiar allowance for the 16,614 staff of INEC, it will require N10.6 billion, and we have made provision for that.”
He noted that changes in economic parameters, such as the significant increase in the cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from 197 naira per liter to over 600 naira, have impacted the budgetary needs.
Part of the N18 billion is intended to augment the electoral expenses for the upcoming elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo states.
Furthermore, Yakubu highlighted the unexpected nature of the 11 by-elections that emerged within just four months of the inauguration of national and state assemblies, with the majority of vacancies occurring in the House of Representatives.
“Not many people in Nigeria will believe that within four months after the inauguration of the national and state assemblies, 11 vacancies have occurred, 11 by-elections in four months,” he stated.