We won’t postpone 2019 elections despite budget delay, says INEC chairman

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The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday said that contrary to media reports, there were no discrepancies in the commission’s budget currently before national assembly.

He also said that despite the seeming delay in passing the budget proposal, the elections would not be postponed.

According to the INEC chairman, having appeared before the two committees the federal lawmakers have expressed satisfaction with the estimate before them.

Prof. Yakubu who spoke in an interview with State House correspondents during his visit to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the commission was looking forward to hearing from NASS soon.

“We have made the clarification on what the National Assembly asked for and I am happy that the National Assembly and the two committees on INEC expressed satisfaction on the clarification that we made for the matter of appropriation.

“So we look forward to hearing what the National Assembly will say. But we also need to make this very important clarification, the commission requested N189.2bn, that is what the executive proposed to the National Assembly.’’

He said the Electoral Act did not make any provision for the postponement of election since the date is fixed.

“I have said this over and over again, there are no conditions under which elections should be postponed. 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,” he said.

Yakubu also denied another media report that the commission budgeted N700m for international observers that would take part in the 2019 general elections.

He said what INEC provided for in the budget were for kits that would be provided for the observers while the various groups they represent would cater for their accommodation and transportation.

He explained, “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 provide these facilities for those who monitor elections but their accommodation and transportation will be borne by various election monitoring groups and not by the Nigerian government.”

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