The forthcoming 2015 general elections might be jeopardized if no urgent steps are taken to address the problem of funding besetting the Independent National Electoral Commission, the House of Representatives has said.
The green chamber, which made this known through its Committee on Electoral Matters, said that INEC, as a matter of fact, had no money to conduct the 2015 polls because the Federal Government was underfunding the commission.
The committee chairman, Hon. Jerry Manwe, specifically said that the INEC needed N120bn to conduct the election but that it had less than half of the sum.
Manwe said, “Out of the N120bn that INEC proposed, only N45bn was given to the commission by government. It means that the commission is short of a huge difference of N75bn.
“We have alerted the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office of the Federation; we as a committee, we cannot initiate a supplementary budget for INEC.
“As it stands, INEC has no money to conduct the elections. If they are not able to get supplementary appropriation, there will be serious problems”.
The lawmaker said time was already running out on the commission to get some of its programmes for the election running.
Hon. Manwe noted that funding challenges could mar the elections, voicing concern that while everyone was already looking forward to the election, questions were not asked about the financial capacity of INEC to deliver on its mandate.
He stated that his committee had come to the conclusion that only a supplementary budget could bail INEC out of its present financial predicament following a series of interface with the commission’s chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, and independent investigations conducted by the committee.
“As the Committee on Electoral Matters, our work is to alert the relevant authorities to our findings and the implications for the 2015 elections”, Manwe explained.
He, however, expressed optimism that the Federal Government would address the issue with a supplementary budget in the weeks ahead.
“We are waiting to see what happens as we enter July, but it is important to say that this is the situation for now”, he added.